Stephen Leach’s playwrighting debut Can’t Wait To Leave is having its world premiere at Waterloo East Theatre this week. The play centres on Ryan, a nineteen-year-old bisexual man, living in London. Ryan (played by Zach Hawkins) is currently working as a food delivery rider living in a horribly overpriced pit of a flat and is feeling rather lonely as the person he relied upon has left the city.

Staged in an NHS hospital waiting room, (it becomes apparent why towards the end of the play) there are no staging changes throughout the show. Subtle changes would have aided the storytelling, making it easier for the audience to know where the scene he’s reflecting upon is taking place, as the static staging makes visualisation more difficult. However, the sound design does help to build the atmosphere of each scene.

Hawkins has a casual air about him when playing this role. The performance feels effortless, and his delivery feels natural, as though this could be his own personal story. At times the show has an almost stand-up style feel to it, as it is performed in a direct address to the audience, allowing us to feel in conversation with him without the fourth wall being fully broken.

The script is good for the most part, filled with some gloriously darkly humorous lines and honest depictions of both life as a bisexual man, and also of a person trying to find his place. There are moments when the lines are rather graphic, bordering on crude. There are also a few lines which were slightly problematic, such as a line stereotyping a fat man, and a line about sleeping with a Muslim man. Both of these felt rather tasteless, and they were not necessary to the overall story. It did not make sense to me for the character of Ryan, who is facing judgement and stereotyping for his sexuality, to then make assumptions and stereotype others.

There are also a few anecdotes, such as stories about Ryan’s job, which detract from the main story and needlessly elongate the run time, which is around 30 minutes longer than the advertised length. The play takes a long time to set things up, which then means it drags toward the end, diluting the play’s climax. Some editing is required to condense the script to make this a more cohesive piece with momentum throughout.

Hawkin’s performance is the star of this show. He is hysterically funny and heartbreakingly emotive in equal parts, taking us on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout this poignant story. His stamina is astounding; performing completely solo for 90 minutes is no mean feat, and he did not leave the stage once, with even costume changes occurring onstage. He gives a simply stunning performance.

Can’t Wait To Leave is a solid writing debut, though some consolidation of the script is required to make the play more dynamic and pacier. I do feel the show would be much better suited to a 60-minute run time. But the core of the story is honest, raw, and sadly relatable to many – particularly those trying to find their way in the lonely capital city. With some work, this has the potential to stun. Plus, it’s always great to see bisexual representation in any form, as it is an often misunderstood and unfairly judged part of the LGBTQIA+ community – so this is something to be commended.

Check the content warnings before you watch the show, as there is some potentially triggering content within the show.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Read all Amy’s reviews here

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
    Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH

Leave a Reply