Wretching. I mean really wretching. Echoing around the audience and making us instantly squeamish. Such is the sight confronted by the audience at the King’s Head Theatre as they first watch Squirm. Written by Sarafina Cusack and directed by Chris Davis, Squirm is a one-man show with a difference. It’s not just the protagonist the title refers to. It’s the audience.
Rory (Nick Finegan) plays our confessor for the evening, a young man in his early 20s who isn’t short of a tale or two about drinking or ex-girlfriends. His descriptions of the pubs and beer gardens he frequents are detailed and entincing, recognisible and comfortably familiar.
There’s a fine line to be drawn with being cocky and self-assured, and being annoying. Finegan thankfully, is the former, keeping our interest throughout. While Rory, like many his age, is ‘flexible’ in terms of his defintion of fidelity and relationships, he is amiable and one can understand (if not empathise) with his predicament with an enigmatic girl who captured his heart with her wit and gentle teasing – yet always just out of his reach. She possesses the ability to make him deny he has a girlfriend – or at least admit to himself he sees no future with them. Not that she coerces him to do so – quite the opposite. It’s just that when he’s in her presence, he is completely and utterly beguiled.
Except there is something really bothering him, because what’s causing him to heave isn’t the skinful he had the night before. It’s a secret that’s gnawing away at his insides… The big revelation will come as no surprise to anyone who has read or watched Irving Welsh’s Trainspotting, but even in this day and age where relationships between different age groups take place, to be thought of as having Nabakovian tendencies isn’t a badge of merit.
Rory’s the first to admit that he’s emotionally-immature and ‘she’ has an ‘old soul’, so that should balance things out. Right? Right…?
© Michael Davis 2017
Squirm runs at the King’s Head Theatre from until 4th March: (1.00pm, 9.30pm).