As one of the most literal titles at the fringe this year, the premise of this show is probably quite obvious.
This comedy jumps straight into a regular night at financial advisor Stephen’s studio flat: we meet him preparing for a date which his victim – chained to a radiator – has arranged for him on Plenty of Fish. What unfolds is a complex and hilarious relationship between prisoner and guard. It’s unclear how long the victim has been there, and this leaves an unsettling tone under the raucous laughter that fills the venue. Gag heavy and full of laughs, the two performers share great chemistry on stage, creating light humour out of an odd and disturbing situation.
A socially awkward and messy man, Stephen seeks acceptance and advice from his prisoner, often switching roles of power during the play. Played by Alex Wells-King, who is also one half of Theatre, Apparently, Stephen is a character with great depth and boldness thanks to King’s quick timing throughout.
Laughing in the face of political correctness, Adam Willis, writer, director and the other half of Theatre, Apparently, smashes through taboos surrounding race, sexual abuse, homophobia, feminism and pushes the socially accepted boundaries of comedy in style.
The real intelligence in the writing, however, lies in what is not revealed in the narrative of the show, as the captor’s life beyond the shackles of this dingy apartment is never revealed. It’s the relationship between prisoner and guard that really flourishes in this show. The clinking of the victim’s chains, or her restricted movement when trying to clean the flat remind the audience of the situation we are currently watching: a hostage chained to a radiator under a man’s careful watch. The dark currents that lie beneath only bubble up to the surface in a few short moments in the show – Stephen’s rage as he unshackles his victim or an apparent getaway attempt. It is through these small and significant scenes that writer Adam Willis succeeds in making a dark and harrowing situation out of this likeable duo with terrific energy.
Often silly, and sometimes uncomfortable, I keep a woman in my flat chained to a radiator cleverly addresses a serious topic with slick comedic timing to take the audience on a surreal journey.
I keep a woman chained to my flat on a radiator is playing ZOO until August 29.