BLEACH - The Kings Arms, Salford
"One night, two Viagra, three clients, and at least four orgasms. Because what's the point if you don't enjoy your job? Tyler Everett knows how to take it like a man; he's made a career out of it. He's been doing pretty well for himself, enjoying a hedonistic life of men, sex, and money. But on a fully-booked Saturday night, his bubble's about to burst and he'll discover the real cost of living in the world's most exciting city."
On at the King's Arms in Salford, Exist Theatre's Bleach tells the story of a new-to-London-er, Tyler Everett (Dan Ireland-Reeves), who sells his body and his morals in an attempt to make his way in the capital.
Everett is a misguided rent boy; a lost millennial, searching for some kind of grip in a world filled with unreachable mortgages, zero-hour contracts, and a god-awful job at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet - a world which then forces him to question whether or not living in London is really worth the cost.
Described as the journey from small town boy, to big time fuck up, Bleach is a one man show; visceral, dynamic, and exciting - a story of snuff films, sex, and sordid London life that grabs you by the balls and refuses to let go. Ireland-Reeves, who both wrote and stars in the performance, gives a dark reminder of how not everything we see is always as glossy as social media might suggest. We all know that friend; posting endless, seemingly-successful stories via Instagram posts and Facebook check-ins - but the chances are, as Everett reminds us in his seedy, sex-filled world, they're more likely to have been chewed up and spat out by the capital than had a painless ride of it, no pun intended.
The show was also poignant in fixating on how rarely we're forced to sit down and shut up, and think about other things apart from technology - something Everett becomes obsessed with as his journey progresses. He kept the small, intimate audience engaged with his quips and believable dialogue and trains-of-thought, and as dark and perhaps unrelatable Everett's life as a rent boy is, we can still empathise with his panic, his struggle; his need to feel like he has a purpose and a place.
The language of the show was clever; fast paced, witty dialogue pocked with bite and intelligent quips. The desperate desire for success comes across well, both through Ireland-Reeves' performance, and the intimacy of the venue. Ireland-Reeves brings a picture of an overwhelmingly large city cleverly to the small stage, commanding well for the majority and creating an almost claustrophobic picture of his London life. The setting was unnervingly intimate and in-your-face in places; something which worked well to get across the intensity of his troubled story.
Bleach is dark, cynical, and witty - and we recommend a watch. On between the 12th and 15th July, performances start at 7:30pm at the Kings Arms, Salford. Tickets £7/5.