Pleasance Theatre, London
Introduced to a “chav with an asbo” in the form of Charlie Heptinstall. Music, poetry and lyrical storyline bring to stage his emotive autobiographical childhood and entry into adulthood. Heptinstall is accompanied by the extremely talented musician Jordan El Balawi, who becomes his therapist at certain points in the performance.
A broken family, years of abuse by his Father, neglect and abandonment from his Mother. Mental abuse scars run throughout the core of this outstanding performance by Heptinstall. Owning his story and taking the audience through his heart-wrenching journey never defaults into a tale of “woe is me” which could be an easy format to have taken.
As E’s thoughts wander to how that gorgeous man over there would look naked. Bought up by a racist, violent and homophobic role model. Fighting between nature and nurture the struggle and pain unfold before the audience on stage. Once you decide to turn your back on nature’s influences the real struggle to the freedom in finding the “you” you choose to be then begins.
Growing up with an alcoholic father whose moods depended on which number pint he was currently on. As he Lunges from the flirtatious womaniser to a violent bully with sudden destructive outbursts. Demonstrated when Heptinstall relives one such fight on stage, spasms and reactions extremely realistic, at one point I found myself recoiling from the blow.
Hard-hitting autobiographical theatre such as head/lining offers audiences an insight into the harsh and angry struggles that go unspoken behind many homes throughout the country. Heptinstall deserves to be proud of how far he has travelled emotionally on this ever-changing journey, called life as he discovers the person he now chooses to become.
Photograph credits Danny Kaan.