EdFringe 2022 Review: No Place Like Home

Writer-performer Alex Roberts delivers a spectacular performance in lyrical one man piece No Place Like Home running at EdFringe’s Pleasance until Monday 29th of August. Blending numerous artistic forms including video, original music, dance and spoken-word, No Place Like Home shines as a meticulously executed yet tender and affecting piece of theatre.

Directed and co-created by Cameron Carver, No Place Like Home centres on Connor, a newcomer to gay club The Swallow where he meets and is charmed by long-standing barman Rob. What follows is a night packed with euphoric romantic firsts that descends into a moment of devastating violence. Examining the politics within gay communities and the role of victim and perpetrator, No Place Like Home is likely to leave a lasting impression on audiences.

Co-creator Jac Cooper’s sound design strikes us from the opening moments of No Place Like Home, blending euphoric dance music with Alex Roberts’ lyrical spoken word musings and joyous choreography. Drawing us into Connor’s story with the supporting fusion of music, visuals and movement, Roberts captures the young man’s euphoric excitement about venturing to a gay-club after newfound realisations about his sexuality. Connor’s voice blends humour and buoyant excitement into the fold – with the young man’s bedroom preparations (including an unfortunate Veet incident) providing some well-pitched laughs.

As the narrative ventures towards the club, the full visual punch of No Place Like Home is highlighted. From on-screen graphics in the background including neon signs, rainbow coloured doorways, karaoke lyrics and vibrant glowing patterns adorn the screen, ensuring that throughout its runtime this is a visually commanding piece. A humiliating experience at the hands of Connor’s school crush sees the night go awry before the arrival of suave shaven-headed barman Rob. As the pair navigate the club environment of The Swallow, No Place Like Home gradually unpeels the backstory of the handsome barman revealing his own hurt through fractured previous relationships. Both young men represent different parts of the queer experience: Rob, the jaded scene-regular, Connor the naïve young man attempting to find his footing in the gay scene.

No Place Like Home establishes a dreamy night time fantasy in Connor and Rob’s exploits – a romantic karaoke serenade to Come Rain Or Come Shine proves elegantly touching amidst the boozy party environment of The Swallow, whilst the narrative goes on to explore their romantic bond in the wee hours of the morning whilst the rest of the world sleeps. No Place Like Home lures us into this woozy romantic dream – one that is unfortunately cut short as events soon become traumatic.

No Place Like Home soon seeks to challenge perceptions about queer spaces and the queer experience. Juxtaposing the idea of queer spaces as euphoric sanctuaries, No Place Like Home boldly examines how these can soon turn into sites of violence and hate crimes, whilst showcasing the victims of violence can soon become perpetrators. The initial jarring shock of No Place Like Home’s tonal shift is one that gradually lingers with audiences as we grapple with the violent aftermath of a previous euphoric fantasy.

Huge praise should be bestowed upon the vibrant, lyrical performance of Alex Roberts who transforms between the characters of Connor and Rob with the turning of a cap – a small move that feels truly transformative as the performer intercuts between roles. Capturing the physicality of both characters with distinctive changes in body language, demeanour and voice, Roberts is a truly commanding presence. Setting Roberts’ performance alongside choreography from Cameron Carver, Jac Cooper’s vivid sound design, and hypnotic visuals from Virginie Taylor, crafts a magnetic, thought-provoking piece of theatre.

No Place Like Home runs until the 29th of August as part of EdFringe 2022. Get your tickets here.

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