★★★ | Compulsion

What’s your secret? What do you do in private that you wouldn’t share with anyone? What happens if the quiet, secret compartments in our heads start to invade our consciousness? And if the curtains are torn down for all to see, could we survive? Would we adapt or die?

Tom Staunton’s a nice guy. A genuinely nice guy. A little damaged and a little quirky. Who isn’t? But his secrets and compulsions are coming to the fore in a very public way that he can’t control. The voices in his head won’t keep quiet. They have to be heard. What’s his secret? Why is it tearing him apart? Is any part of our nature as human beings too shameful for others to see?

Join Tom as we examine the dark corners of his mind. Meet the different facets of his personality that hold power over him and witness the incidents in his past that have made him who he is.

Compulsion is a darkly comic journey into one man’s sub-conscience. Tune into the noise in his mind that simultaneously tortures him and helps him to keep going. Witness the struggle of having to live with oneself.

As I arrived at the theatre, I was amazed to see an empty stage with just two actors and a chair. I knew this was going to be a true Fringe performance. As I sat down and began to cool down, I was instantly drawn in. Evidently, we were dealing with a gay man being haunted by the different elements of his subconscious. We were presented with three variations of his psyche played by Kim Maouhoub, Paul Storan and Nigel Fyfe.

We were immediately transported into Tom’s mind by the exquisite use of lighting that matched perfectly with the angst dealt Declan Cooke’s character. Kim Maouhoub, who had an air of Helena Bonham Carter, played her parts brilliantly. Each new character portrayed was performed beautifully with excellent characterization. The other two actors, Paul Storan and Nigel Fyfe were also great with real determination and emotion in their performance.

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The only downside was the length; it only lasted just under 50 minutes with the majority of the time being the scene changes. An interruption which I feel could have been done better. I would have liked to have seen the play developed more and made into more of a developed narrative rather than a glimpse into his innermost thoughts. Furthermore, the LGBT themes seemed to be a bit cliché; a gay man with an abusive past that had been accused of being a paedophile. It is these clichés that I wish were avoided. Instead I would have liked to have seen a deeper dive into Tom’s mind and even perhaps not having a clear and concise answer to why he felt the way he did, however all in all an excellent and true Fringe performance.

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Final words: An interesting production with clichéd themes. Definitely worth a view if you’re in the area especially for Kim Maouhoub. Not bad!

About the author: Matt Peake
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