Review: Consumables, King’s Head Theatre

‘Sex is the loneliest thing you can do.’ These words, spoken poignantly by young porn star, Blaize (Michael Hanratty), drill right into the heart of this fantastic play by Matthew Kyne Baskott. Recounting the evening Blaize calls upon middle-aged Leonard (Timothy Harker) in his London flat, Consumables is a play with no shame yet, incredibly, little cause for squirming.

The protagonist, Leonard, makes a spectacular yet nonchalant entrance through the audience wearing a dominatrix mask coupled with a floral apron and duster, setting a tone of extreme intimacy. Mrs Joseph (Susan Aderin), the flamboyant next-door-neighbour, is a gem of a character who has the role of exposing this intimacy by continually interrupting at the worst possible moments: Leonard settling down to some naughty laptop material or indulging in a graphic cannibalistic fantasy with stark-naked Blaize, to name but a few.

These activities sum up the subject matter of the story line. Certainly not for the close-minded, Leonard’s desire for sex drive the play’s plot as he spends time with his favourite porn-star who thinks he has signed up for a bizarre form of euthanasia.

Perhaps the main strength of this play lies in its characters (which is a feat considering its brevity.) All three of the characters are coherent and knowable: the neurotic Leonard, over-confident Blaize and kind-hearted Mrs Joseph. The audience is shown their outward façades, their complications and, thus, their vulnerabilities. The way each character interacts with the other is also laudable. The development of the relationship between Blaize and Leonard is particularly impressive.  At the beginning of the play, Blaize comes across as a coke-fuelled egomaniac, dominating Leonard’s flat with his loud exclamations and profanities. By the end, Leonard is comforting the now defenceless Blaize over a warming cup of Camomile tea and the leftovers of Mrs Joseph’s dinner. How does this happen? Through a series of misunderstandings and insults that ingeniously reveal the hidden insecurities of each character.

Kyne Baskott has created a play that is quirky, comic and heart-breaking. Blaize and Leonard are in very separate worlds, struggling independently in their lonely realms, plaguing the play with misunderstandings and detachment. The flittering moments of solidarity expose the strength of human connection and empathy, even if it is easier to stay sitting in our own apartments staring at a 2D screen, not bothering to call on the friendly neighbour who is two metres away with an empty seat on their sofa.

Consumables played at the King’s Head Theatre until August 7.

Alice Devoy

I am currently studying English at UCL. I write and direct plays and would love to work in theatre.