☆★★★★ The Geminus
From the moment you arrive at the Tristan Bates theatre, there is little doubt Blue Devil Production's The Geminus is a seafaring drama. At once, you are cleverly immersed by Chris Postle's excellent sea-inspired soundscape. An original piece of new writing, Ross Dinwiddy has taken Joseph Conrad's novella 'The Secret Sharer' and retold it as a dark romance full of sexual tension but with some profoundly funny and lighthearted moments as part of this nautical tale.
The clipper Geminus is becalmed in the tropics, and young, inexperienced Captain George Hotson (John Black) is feeling the intense strain and the isolation of his new command. On watch and alone on deck, he finds solace in a voyage of self-discovery. He then encounters, and welcomes aboard, a fugitive called Leggatt (Gareth Wildig) - a handsome and enigmatic stranger with blood on his hands.
Dinwiddy cleverly explores the captain's repressed sexuality - grey silk pyjamas might have been a clue - and Leggatt's more predatory approach. He has also entwined throughout the fascinating dynamic of the other seamen, Frizer (Ben Baeza) and Skeres (Robert Cohen). With no spoilers, we further encounter sea captain-manqué, Ma Gwen (Christine Kempell).
As an ensemble, they are entirely coherent, credible and captivating to watch. Black and Wildig explore their nascent relationship with care and warmth as their closeted sexuality become evident and ever more explicitly passionate. And as actors, they are both comfortable with undoubted relaxed chemistry. Ben Baeza gives an extremely assured and, at times, hilarious performance and is blessed with some witty lines and asides. Special mention must go to Christine Kempell as Ma Gwen, who gives a tour de force routine as an overpowering, belligerent sea captain. 'A pitiless obligation' at a time when women couldn't hold such a post! Beautifully-written, joyous farce at its best and a delightful double-act with John Black.
Ross Dinwiddy has not only written The Geminus but also directs with style, sensitivity, grace and pace, extracting the many nuances from his work and the decidedly talented and secure ensemble.
The Geminus by Ross Dinwiddy
12th - 17th August
£12 Book here https://www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre/the-geminus/book/£10
Part of the Camden Fringe Season