Kings of Idle Land

Conor Hunt
C H Productions
Vault (Cavern) Leake Street

Hammad (Shiv Rabheru) and Michael (Sam Retford) Credit: Simon Webb
Michael (Sam Retford) Credit: Simon Webb
Michael (Sam Retford) and Hammad (Shiv Rabheru) Credit: Simon Webb

Conor Hunt’s play Kings of Idle Land begins with a chase. Hammad (Shiv Rabheru) is climbing quickly over a fence into the litter-strewn end of some park. He is being chased by white racists he thinks are National Front. His friend Michael (Sam Retford) follows with more difficulty but he hasn’t the same urgency. The gang are not concerned about him. But you don’t just leave your mate in trouble.

Together they sit in the park as sanctuary, the pursuers hanging around in the darkness beyond. Peering across the fence, Hammad says they “might be knobheads but at least they are dedicated.” And while they wait for the gang to leave the area, the two chat about school, about friends, about trivia from crisps to beer, their friendship evident in every easy comment they make.

But Michael is troubled by something and we soon learn it's his sexuality. He’s finished with his girlfriend because he isn’t sure it is women he is interested in.

This is a tender love story with dialogue that flows easily, a dance sequence that expresses very movingly the feelings of the characters and acting that is remarkable for the sensitive attention to detail. There is always something to watch in the facial expression, the glance of eyes, the movement of bodies.

As Oldham is engulfed in riots provoked by years of racism against the Asian population, Hammad and Michael grow in confidence about the nature of their own identity.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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