The debut play of an actor turned writer could easily go one of two ways. Luckily for us, Philip Correia’s Hyem (yem, hjem, home) rises to the challenge and provides a complex and gritty storyline for the able cast to get their teeth around.
Alan Dummet, known as ‘Dummey’ is a socially awkward young teenager. He thinks no-one wants him and he’s probably right, he’s growing up in ‘Fountain Park’, the second worst estate to live on in the UK. Yet, he finds refuge in the living room, and home, of Mick and Sylv. The tackily decorated house; home to a dog named Clark Gable and a Python named Vivien Leigh, seems to be a refuge for a number of children, none of them related. Anything goes here, the children smoke, drink and swap condoms, all under the watchful eye of Mick, and the rules that have been drawn up by Sylv.
As an audience, it never feels like we are getting the full story, and that leaves us on the edge of our seats, eagerly listening for the next clue in the tale, and trying to cut through the harsh north-east accents. Much like the residents of Fountain Park; we hear rumours and innuendo, we draw conclusions from the snippets we see, but we can never be sure. The word paedophile is used only once, approaching the end. Yet, it’s been on our minds since the opening scene.
This constant state of ambiguity could easily have worn thin, had it not been for the exceptional cast who were able to draw the audience in like a spider catching its prey. Making his professional stage debut, Ryan Nolan as Dummey gives a deep and multi-layered performance, it was fascinating to see him flick between the troubled teen and more outgoing rebel. Aimee Kelly, who perfectly plays Laura, the brash and bold teen who’s desperately insecure, and Sarah Balfour as the ever optimistic Shelley, make the younger cast a real highlight.
There is no denying however, that the performance of the evening comes from Charlie Hardwick as Sylv, the experience Hardwick brings to the stage elevates the whole piece and gives it more depth and realism.
The entire play is staged in the living room, designed by Jasmine Swan; it’s decorated in a strange mix of stuffed animals and Viking helmets. The general knick-knacks make it look homely and lived in, while the wine coloured walls bring a sense of darkness and foreboding. It looks fantastic, creating this sense of homeliness which unravels when you start to notice things like the dildo in the candle-stick.
Hyem (yem, hjem, home) is a fascinating play, full of twists and turns, keeping the audience engrossed from start to finish with its quick wit and break neck speed dialogue. It’s an excellent piece of writing, especially for a debut, and we learn that when an actor turns playwright, it is the cast who get to take centre stage, with these beautiful in-depth character explorations.
Photos courtesy of Nick Rutter.