As soon as the audience sit down in the venue for Gritty Theatre’s show About a Goth, the scale of the theatrics quickly becomes clear. Nick, the central character, reveals himself as a homosexual goth, which as it turns out lends itself to all kinds of comedy material. As Nick glides around the stage, sharing his anecdotes and undraping himself, he becomes a very believable character. Clement Charles is an actor of incredible scope, easily able to distinguish the different characters intermittently shown throughout the 45 minutes.
Nick himself is an incredibly likeable character, consisting of stories about his family and volunteering experience as well as other asides including but not limited to mint frappuccinos (the most goth drink available from Starbucks). He is funny throughout, but the jokes seem noticeably better in the second half of the show. This is not a problem as such – it avoids the trap of cramming all the really funny moments into the opening moments of the show. The writing is tactical as well as funny.
The problem with this however is that while Nick and his exploits are very easy to like, they are much harder to actually find interesting. The show runs at a slow pace, swapping and changing between scenes fairly often, the end result being that not very much actually happens. While the ways that Nick responds and changes to these events are far more important than the events themselves, About a Goth is nevertheless difficult to really engage with until the final twenty minutes or so.
It is also hard in the early phases of the play to appreciate Nick beyond his appearance and behaviour. It is not immediately obvious that his character goes much deeper than what he looks like and how he acts. Not until his epiphany are some greater ideas and suggestions about his character are portrayed, and it is in these moments where the show is by far at its strongest.
With such a limited set, some creativity was needed when it came to making it clear how and when Nick moved between different scenes in the play. The lights change brightness as opposed to changing colour whenever such a change happens, so it is difficult to work out exactly what is happening and to follow the changes from scene to scene. For a story told almost entirely in flashbacks, this is a problem.
About a Goth is certainly an amusing and heartening piece of theatre, though. Nick’s dance moves at a party are a highlight, and his personality is infectious. It takes a while, but he does win you over with the complexity and change he goes through, and ultimately that is what the play is about. Charles is undeniably a very talented young actor. The changes that Nick experiences throughout the show would not be clear if it was not for his ability to bring this character to the stage and share his story.
This show is much like the other characters who Nick is forced to put up with in his daily life: imperfect. That is not to say that it is worthless. Gritty Theatre deliver a very enjoyable show with a very strong performance, which just does not quite live up to the expectations of those expecting to see a polished piece of independent theatre.
About a Goth
The Space at Surgeons’ Hall
Until 18th August
Image: Sorrel Price Photography