Brett Herriot at the Festivals

Soho Boy, the Space @ Symposium, Annex, Venue 43 Review:

A beguiling performance

***** 5 Stars

London where for the lucky few it’s the city where their hopes come true and everything is possible but for many the streets are lined with shattered dreams and living with the reality of their choices. This battle between glamour, sex and songs verses the harshness and dark reality makes for an emotive, capturing and sublimely performed new musical from Paul Emelion Daly.

Soho Boy follows the life of Spencer (the divinely gorgeous and outrageously talented Owen Dennis) as he leaves home for the bright lights of Soho to chase his dreams as a cabaret and drag performer keeping the secret of sexuality from his mother. In Soho he discovers love and the strength to come out and then has to face the ultimate truth that we all have live with the consequences of our actions as excess, heartbreak and drug fuelled sex parties lead him beyond the neon lights of Soho to a life tainted by stigma.

Daly’s script accompanied by his strong music and lyrics takes us well into Spencer’s life, giving depth to the production, especially in the darker moments. It does feel like a fuller musical could well be in development from the 50 minute fringe production and hopefully that comes to fruition as Soho Boy has already enjoyed a London run prior to opening at this year’s Festival.

Owen Dennis delivering a beguiling performance.

Director Matt Strachan has delivered a true testament to the power of theatre to move and educate the audience, whilst it’s heartbreaking we still need these stories to educate modern audiences, this production is a potent reminder of as far as we as a society, especially the LGBTQI+ community have come there is still so much further to go.

This one man show rests solely on the performer in the role of Spencer and in Owen Dennis, making his professional debut; LAMBCO productions have found a true sparkling talent. Dennis ability to convey every emotion of Spencer’s journey is encapsulating. His rich vocals give authenticity to the songs. He also works his way through a plethora of costume changes including dragging up in a sparkly frock and outrageously high heeled stilettos. The choice to go as far Dennis did with the nudity shows a rare strength and belief and it could have cheapened the production but Owen uses it to further the depth of the overall show.  His star and talent is clearly ascending and it was a privilege to see him work in such an intimate setting, big things clearly await him.

Soho Boy is truly worthy 50 minutes of anyone’s Festival day, a beguiling performance, quality writing and deeply personal and moving story ensures Soho Boy lingers long in the memory and hopefully this is just the start of its theatrical journey.

Soho Boy, The Space @ Symposium, Annex, Venue 43 for tickets go to: Soho Boy | Musicals and Opera | Edinburgh Festival Fringe (edfringe.com)  or direct from the venue.

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