Charles & Larry | Secret House

Image by Clare Hawley

Charles and Larry are still brothers even if they haven’t seen each other for 10 years. Neither of their lives have gone entirely to plan but maybe reconnecting will open up much needed space for healing and forgiveness. Or it’ll have them both spiralling backwards. It’s worth trying, though, right?

This new script from Xavier Coy covers the days after Larry (Adam Marks) appears on his brother’s (Coy) doorstep with promises to pull himself together and get sober after losing years to a heroin addiction. In the time since the brothers have seen each other, their mother, the integral element binding their relationship together, has passed away with Charles watching on and Larry nowhere to be found. There is deep unresolved pain in their relationship and both hesitancy and resentment about overcoming misunderstanding and distance. What works in Coy’s script is the representation of disappointment in these characters whose lives are not going how they imagined but who feel trapped in the choices of their pasts.

Under the direction of Jane Angharad, the flaws of the characters were not sugar-coated or shied-away from, allowing for a rounded, sympathetic portrayal of simply sad circumstances. Hovering around the dingy apartment (designed by James Smithers) was the constant allure of the escape heroin offered Larry, represented in the fluid, hallucinatory lighting design by Sophie Pekbilimli which swirled in blues, purples, and pinks when the brothers sunk into their high relief.

The dynamic between the brothers was blunt and, at times, explosive as they struggled to soften their harsh memories. Coy’s Charles was caustic and unforgiving but had a vulnerable, self-conscious side that came through in his interactions with girlfriend Olivia (Ana Thu Nguyen). On the other hand, Larry was portrayed by Marks as an enlightened, free-flowing kind of guy with a true desire to be forgiven. Marks was particularly compelling for his physicality, embodying the skittishness of detoxing alongside his clashing feelings of shame and grandiose self-righteousness with an anxious, twitching movement.

While the relationship depicted in Charles & Larry was engaging and the topics of addiction, forgiveness, and hope are pertinent, the production felt like a shell of a larger story with conversations often written very on-the-nose or with an unproductive self-awareness to the characters that undercut more nuanced characterisations. With more time spent with the brothers or with more varied scenarios for them to reveal their histories, the story could take on a wider scope and allow for a fully-realised exploration of these brothers and their lives.

As it stands, Charles & Larry is a gentle glimpse into the thorny middle-ground between addiction and sobriety, hurt and forgiveness, the past and the future.

Charles & Larry is running at Flight Path Theatre from February 26th – March 6th

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