“A beautiful city glitters during the day, but at night the rats emerge.” A former pillar of society is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a young boy from a disadvantaged family. Montero, a judge, must attempt to uncover if there is any truth behind these allegations. Is Pablo Rivas, the accused, guilty? Or is he simply a generous father-type figure whose nurturing manner towards a vulnerable youth has been misinterpreted? As a tangled web of lies emerge, it is difficult for Montero to know who is telling the truth as he struggles to rid the city of its sinister characters or ‘rats’. Hamlyn is a chilling piece of theatre that tackles adult themes in a completely gripping manner.

By its own admission Hamlyn is a play without costumes, lights or set; the onus is therefore on the spectator to imagine the unnamed city themselves aided only by childlike chalk drawings that are drawn directly on the black floor and walls.  This minimalistic and uncomplicated approach works well, as it enables the audience to focus on the brilliant characterisation within the piece.

As Montero, Tyrone Lopez’s performance was understated with mysterious undertones: on one hand as a professional he is all consumed by his need to solve the case, yet in his personal life it remains unexplained why he is unable to connect with his own son, Jamie. I was also thoroughly impressed by Alex Andreou’s dichotomous depiction of Rivas having a vile yet vulnerable nature. It is testament to Andreou’s skill as an actor that he was able to evoke both disgust and sympathy from the audience. Another performance that is worthy of note is that of the commentator (and assistant director) Ben Borowiecki, whose insightful and witty asides regarding the staging of the play added a welcome meta-theatrical dimension to the work.

One of the most interesting and topical themes in Juan Mayorga’s play Hamlyn is the media’s depiction of controversial cases of suspected child abuse. It criticises their creation of sensationalist headlines, repeatedly commenting that their articles read more like works of literature than factually accurate accounts. Hamlyn explores the destructive impact that such allegations have, not only on the victim but the devastating repercussions they have on everybody that is embroiled in the situation. Mayorga’s work is truly thought-provoking and once the final blackout has occurred, many questions that the piece raised are left unanswered.

This strong cast execute this dark subject matter superbly. Much in the same way the children of Hamlyn were entranced by the hypnotic effect of the tune of the Pied Piper, Mayorga’s Hamlyn also has mesmerising qualities that will leave audiences utterly captivated.

Hamlyn is being performed at The Space until 9 May. For tickets and more information please visit The Space website.