Life on the edge . . . of a bed
Playwright Rob Joiner, left, as Boz in rehearsal for Without a Hand to Hold with fellow actor Matthew Brockington who plays Cank
Without a Hand to Hold
This two-hander is very much about life on the edge. Bos (played by Rob Joiner, who also wrote the play) and Cank (Matthew Brockington) are two men sharing one flat and one bed – although never actually sleeping in it at the same time.
Indeed they pass every 12 hours when either Bos returns from his day shift as a hotel porter and kicks Cank out of the bed or Cank returns from his night shift as a security guard and does the same to Bos.
Their meagre existence is made all the harder by the fact that both suffer from mental illness and a difficulty facing the rest of the world.
Without a Hand to Hold is certainly cleverly written so that we gradually realise that all is not quite what it seems.
Where initially it appears that Bos is the more dominant of the two, we gradually realise that it is Cank who is moving forward, threatening to leave his friend behind.
There is a sense of claustrophobia to the drama. Not only do we never see outside this one bedroom flat, we also learn very little else about the lives of these two men. Their pasts, the reasons for their dependency, the details of their mental health are all very much ‘out there’ while we are holed up ‘in here’.
Directed by Kerry Murdock, there is no let-up and, while there is plenty of comedy, it is a bitterly dark humour which seeps through the sorry state of their lives.
The language is certainly colourful with a good many F-words and C-words peppering the action which, while it helps us to see Bos’s frustration, won’t be to everyone’s taste.
This is Rob Joiner’s first play to be staged and it some ways it shows. He has clearly thrown his heart and soul into the work which deals with some very raw emotions. A good deal of insecurity is being laid bare before the audience. But that is not necessarily a negative and it will be interesting to see where Joiner goes from here.