As a piece of writing, Martin Blackburn’s excruciating new play Nul Points! matches perfectly with its title.
The Eurovision Song contest, now a highly-anticipated calendar event was first held on May 24, 1956, in Lugano, Switzerland. ‘Nul points’ is the lowest possible score awarded to performers in the contest, and is a jokey judgement on unfortunate acts that fail to get any votes. For some loyal Eurovision fans however, scoring Nul Points gives a band or performer an idiosyncratic credibility.
Aspiring actor Josh loves Eurovision. He knows every insane figure and fact. All about Ukraine entering a guy in a hamster wheel. Norway winning with an Olympic skater. The Russian grannies. The Brotherhood of Man.
The highlight of his year is his annual May hosting of a Eurovision final party at his home, with his friends Daz and Kat, where Josh bombards his guests with Bucks Fizz, Eurovision trivia and games of Euro trash truth or dare.
Nul Points! follows the journey of the friends over five Eurovision Parties – in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2022. They find over the 10 years that life doesn’t always match their dreams but Eurovision always does.
Author Blackburn’s lowest common denominator script which has been timed to coincide with UK’s hosting duties, uses every gay cliché and stereotype that he clearly thinks LGBTQ+ audiences want to be spoon fed with, including an obligatory stripper and an endless barrage of very wearing camp innuendos. It’s cringeworthy and a little patronising.
It all feels creatively regressive and seems to invalidate the progressive representation of LGBTQ+ people on stage over the years. Blackburn’s focus on exposition slows down any dramatic momentum, and due to their stereotypical broadness there is no realistic development of the characters throughout the piece.
Adèle Anderson as Gina, seems to struggle through a lot of her lines and sometimes seems to be a bit bewildered on stage. As Josh, Kane Verrall shows great emotional vulnerability, and although her talents seem a little wasted in this production, Charlotte East gives a very likeable performance as Kat.
Nul Points! is at The Union Theatre until 20th May 2023