Updated: Feb 26, 2020
From the very beginning of W*nk Buddies you are captivated by the genuine relationship between the two performers: Cameron Sharp and Jake Jarratt. It appears that the two men would not be particularly compatible, but throughout the piece we see a beautiful friendship blossom. The development between the two throughout the 60 minutes is warm and draws the audience in, making the political context of the piece easy to follow and invest in. Through conversation the pair examine gay culture, toxic masculinity, homophobia, class, the education system and paternal expectations; breaking down boundaries and creating a perfect atmosphere for the audience to go away examining the issues for themselves.
Both performers have a particular northern charm which makes their storytelling charismatic and utterly entertaining. With minimal setting you are transported, convincingly, into a first-year university house party. The script is littered with jokes that are hilarious if you have been through the university journey yourself, however I do believe that these jokes may be lost on any audience members unfamiliar with the lifestyle, of course this is an unavoidable issue.
The parts of W*nk Buddies that examine the more serious issues are approached in a sincere way that is real and in the moment, at these points it feels as if the audience are truly in this world, watching the conversation between these two men; I must commend the performers for transporting us so completely. These moments of sincerity and vulnerability are dispersed with colourful and well-performed dance sequences that give the audience a welcome break. These sections are high-energy, fun and a credit to movement director Alicia Meehan.
Overall the piece is a warm response to the prevalent issue of toxic masculinity, W*nk Buddies encourages hope in a seemingly bleak time. The development of the two characters, particularly Jake’s development, shows that, given the chance, people can fight the societal expectations placed upon then and that perhaps we should all spend less time judging a book by it’s cover. A colourful, warm and hopeful piece that left me walking away feeling optimistic.
W*nk Buddies is on until the 26th of February at the Soho Theatre, tickets available here:
Review by Ashlie Bedwell