Who Is Daniel King is a realistic depiction of a mid-life crisis, stitched up with a sensationally funny script and surprise in-the-face hip thrusts of male risk actuator Daniel King.
Written and performed by Ed Eales-White, an experienced actor featuring in Netflix TV show The Crown and Channel 4’s National Treasure, the play exhibits fantastic screen-worthy acting. However, Eales-White is not alone in this, as he acts alongside Lorna Shaw and Ed Coleman; the first of whom features in Plebs and BBC Radio 4’s comedic duo That Pair, and the latter of whom acts in popular TV shows including BBC’s Merlin, Fox’s Bones and Sky One’s Spy.
Throughout the play, the audience witnesses Daniel’s positive character development, alongside the realistic, negative implications of his career change. Resigning from a sustainable career to one in the arts, his wife, friends and couple’s therapist deploy a comically confused response to his life decisions, eventually leaving him be in his new, naiïvely ecstatic state of having discovered who he really is – a dancer.
And yet, the longer Daniel remains in his new dancer state, the more the audience reflects on the concept of happiness. What does it mean to qualify as a dancer? Who can criticise what is right and what is wrong?
The cliff-hanger ending stirs the audience awake, as they are forced to realise that Daniel has really chosen to prioritise his new lifestyle in order to ‘become himself’. The ending beckons the question of where the line lies between selfishness and self-care, as Eales-White’s character abandons his familial and occupational “responsibilities”, or identities, and opens himself up to the possibilities of a different life.
The theme of dance is of course embedded deeply into each scene, as Shaw and Coleman’s characters also move and twist rhythmically, whilst conversing casually with Daniel about his day. As a result, the blend of reality with surrealism is felt during the entire play and is executed with the help of uses of exceptional transitions, props, lighting and sound.
Daniel King takes the individual outside of the normalities of daily life as a working father to explore what it truly means to be happy and to live your dream every day. The repeated use of contemporary dance trickles onto the stage from the first scene to the last, offering a touch of magical realism and constant contrast between the outer self – dressed in blue collars and ties – versus the inner bodily self, which stomps on bare feet and moves rhythmically in hopes to achieve the human goal of loving one’s life.
Who Is Daniel King is on at Assembly Rooms, The Powder Room
At 18:55 until 24th August
Buy tickets here