Pleasance Theatre, London – until 11 September 2021
Blowhole is a hilarious and surprisingly moving solo show about life as a 20-something gay man looking for love, and the ultimate fabulous gay lifestyle. Written and performed by Benjamin Salmon Blowhole beautifully blends the gratuitous with the meaningful. Our hero is a consummate over-sharer and a total mess, and it is hard not care about him and his chaotic existence.
Salmon brings warmth and vulnerability to his performance of Him (who is most definitely not called Sam) as he struggles to navigate the world of work, process the loss of his dad, and find love (although losing his virginity would be a good start). The piece is packed full of entertaining characters and Salmon does a wonderful job morphing between them. His interpretation of hot yoga guru Star had me in stitches, and don’t get me started on Nick the prick.
Designer Christianna Mason has done an amazing job with the set, which grabbed my attention from the minute I sat down. It vividly evokes aspects of the story we are about to experience, but also has quirky functional elements that contribute to the storytelling. Such a smart use of a relatively limited space, which integrates with Roly Botha’s sound design to hilarious effect (yes Barry, I’m thinking of you). This may be my favourite use of an on-stage toilet to date.
Director Tom Wright weaves the writing, performance and design together to create a cohesive whole that keeps you engaged throughout, no mean feat given how quickly Salmon’s story jumps between moments and characters. Everything is designed to keep pace with this fast moving story, a pace that reflects the precariousness of our protagonist’s life.
BLOWHOLE warms the heart as much as it makes you laugh. There is a contagious optimism to the show that I took away with me. Now I just need to work out what to do with it, which is my cue to go and plot mischief!
BLOWHOLE is running at the Pleasance Theatre with 2 shows a night until 11th September, to find out more or book tickets, go here: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/blowhole#overview
Rating: 4 out of 5.