Really Want to Hurt Me @ Assembly Hall

Blocking out bullies, a red satchel graffitied with the names of their favourite performers all whilst dealing with the isolation from your peers - sound familiar?

Review by Dominic Corr | 31 Aug 2018

Ben Santamaria's Really Want to Hurt Me gives an account of a young boy, growing up in Essex during Thatcher's Britain. This central current is orchestrated by the soundtrack of the decade that changed everything.

Ryan Price is what sells the performance; his portrayal of the unnamed protagonist feels genuine, particularly in his love of the music which acted, for many, as the pathway to an awakening of who they really were. His ability to connect with the audience – humble in nature, as the character opens up about his sexual experiences and the inadequate information present for a young gay man – is touching. The splices of chapter breaks, often through dance and song are presented by Price to laughs, appreciation or sympathy as the audience senses his jubilation and woe. 

One can never really nail down the tone of Really Want to Hurt Me; it can become flippant in its indecisions. Discussions of first loves, suicide and sexual awakenings are all treated with a varying level of importance. Some are given too little time to cover, others are dwelled upon for longer than the material allows for. When discussing matters such as his experiences with young friend Darren, or that of his first girlfriend, they feel honest and raw. 

Everyone has a tale to tell; all are important but many are told better. The ebbing of Really Want to Hurt Me's monologue is minimalist at best, never really building to a large momentous discovery. Though the humbleness of this is indeed refreshing, after a while it can feel monotonous, in need of a scintilla of difference to pierce our wavered attention. 

Really Want to Hurt Me, Assembly Hall, run ended

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