Hommo Review: A KCL student wrote this play in two days and it shows
Hommo tries to poke holes in fragile masculinity, but confusing dance sequences and vague dialogue leave its message muddled
Hommo, produced by KCL student Thomas Froy and starring Erik Alstad and Sam Ebner-Landy revolves around two unnamed young men “as they prepare to kill a woman and concurrently seduce another woman. The narratives run alongside each other as the men try to achieve their ideals of masculinity.”
Certainly, the tag line makes Hommo out to much clearer than it is.
The dialogue between the unlikely seducer and his would-be wingman becomes increasingly vague as the play goes on; to the point where it’s unclear whether the two men are talking about seduction or murder. There’s a message here somewhere about the predatory way men talk about women, but it’s a little on the nose. The wingman ironically quotes Trump’s infamous “grab her by the pussy” line to a muted reaction.
Ambiguity is the backbone of the play, which is somewhat contradictory of the tagline’s erroneous claim that there are two distinct narratives that run alongside each other.
To its credit, the play does well with limited resources. The stage is uncomfortably small and encourages a lot of the homoerotic tension between the two characters. Both actors give compelling performances and look appropriately ill at ease throughout the play’s taught 45 minutes.
A striking opening is also one of the Hommo’s stronger aspects: a dance number shows the wingman overcompensating by throwing himself needlessly into his mate’s personal space, who seems much more at ease with himself on his own, neatly capturing the pair’s dynamic before the first line is spoken: “I think you should kill her.”
It’s a conciseness that Hommo struggles for elsewhere. The other two dance sequences, in particular, err on the side of indulgence.
Much of the dialogue is repetitive and circular. This isn’t always a weakness: the wingman in particular litters his diction with “man”, from which we are meant to infer that he’s platonically distancing himself from his friend, despite the implications that he fancies him a little.
However, there are a few scenes separated by weird grunting sound effects (are they wanking? Having sex? With each other? Who cares?) where barely anything is said. Again, there’s probably a message about the vacuous nature of DMCs, but the idea isn’t really expanded upon.
Which is a shame, because it’s in the moments where dialogue becomes clearer that Hommo is at its best. The two chat about the art of courtship-by-texting and the seducer gets some genuine laughs out of the audience while pondering how to phrase “I want to have lots of sex with you” without “coming across too horny” before declaring “it’s hard for guys.” Less amusing was a scene dedicated to the actors making fun of the theatre-goers for being mostly “posh kids, old women and gays” – not because of the stereotyping (they’re not wrong), but because of the lingering sense that the play was fishing for laughs, made worse by the fact the joke was repeated several times.
A lot of the symbolism lacks subtlety. Before the play starts, we can already see boxing gloves and pads laid out in the shape of a dick (no, really). When the time comes for them to finally work out to the music of Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” (no, REALLY), the two of them face the back wall and do bar curls like they’re masturbating. There’s a lot of phallic chat about the water pistol they intend to use as a murder weapon too – it’s “big” and “heavy”.
The silliness of a lot of it spoils the moments where it’s handled better; the wingman lingers while massaging his pal’s shoulder’s in the play’s opening, but when said pal returns the favour with a more full-bodied affair during the workout sequence it’s eye-roll inducing.
Ultimately, the central idea here: that Mr. Wingman’s obsession with his mate’s sex life (or lack thereof), and the posturing inherent in talking about said sex life is the problem with modern masculinity, isn’t explored so much as it’s made fun of. Some moments of fleeting insight and good performances can’t compensate the Hommo’s weaker moments.