Tim Fraser’s Candy was originally presented as a fifteen-minute monologue in Reboot Shorts 2 at the Bunker Theatre, and following its success has now been developed in to an hour-long piece, which, with original performer Michael Waller, and director Nico Pimparé both returning, is playing two nights at The King’s Head Theatre.
Will never believed in love at first sight, that is until he saw Candy performing in a working mans club in the heart of the North. But this innovative love story has something different to offer its audience, because Candy is a drag act, and her alter-ego is Will’s best friend from school.
This is a truly different kind of love story, and turns the rom-com genre completely on its head. Tim Fraser intricately unpicks the scenario where a straight man falls in love with a woman, who is in reality another straight man, with surprising and revealing consequences. The psychological torment that Will puts himself through, whilst coming to terms with his very real feelings, is both fascinating and heart-breaking to watch unfold.
There is a very strong element of comedy to it, with several witty moments woven through. The original short was presented in the style of a stand-up comedian, and while this longer piece allows Michael Waller to move around more freely and utilise more of the stage, along with some fold up chairs, it still retains the intimate feel, with Waller often addressing the audience directly. The result is storytelling in its finest form, where the audience become enveloped in the warmth and honesty of the character.
Much of that comes from Waller’s strong performance, delivering the complex monologue, filled with different voices and characters, in an entirely natural manner. At times it’s easy to forget you are watching a piece of theatre, rather than listening to Will recount his story over a beer in the very working mans club where he first met Candy.
The expanded storyline brings in more characters, Will’s mother features more, as does a Great Aunt referred to as ‘Toadface’. These additional characters bring in additional layers that help set the foundation of Will’s thought processes, and the situation he finds himself in becomes richer for the context that Tim Fraser builds up around the central story.
With so much happening, and the mile-a-minute delivery, there’s a risk that some elements will be missed, or not get the impact they deserve, and the audience do need to stay on their toes if they want to be sure to catch all the defining moments of this play.
The development of Candy from a short to a more fully formed piece of theatre is remarkable, the story has been expanded significantly, but it ensures that those additions add to the experience and give the audience plenty to think about long after the performance ends. This unconventional story about falling in love is fantastically written and beautifully performed, and will surprise its audience in ways they didn’t think possible.