Review: A Partnership at Gilded Balloon

Honest, moving and beautifully performed, A Partnership is a heart-wrenchingly familiar story of a relationship struggling under the weight of expectation.

Performed in realtime on the eve of Ally’s birthday, the couple goes through a roller coaster of emotion. As they unpack the boxes of their new home they unearth hidden prejudice, expectations and painful truths.

Ben Hadfield’s portrayal of Ally is flawless and magnetic. He really inhabits the character with emotional investment and the audience falls for his playfulness and vulnerability. Opposite Hadfield, Rory Thomas-Howes portrayal of Zach is slightly less believable with some of the emotionality of the storyline being lost in his delivery. However, when working together and sparking off one another Thomas-Howes performance comes into its own and the two carry the show wonderfully together.

Rory Thomas-Howes writing is superb, naturalistic and effortlessly funny and the audience feels immersed in the bittersweetness of the young couples relationship. The underlying context of the show is an exploration of internalized homophobia and this message is delivered with complexity and nuance. We see a battle between conformity, shame and self-expression, which speaks of our human right of freedom in who and how we choose to love. This message is universal and it is through this story of a young gay couple struggling with social expectation that we might see something of ourselves reflected.

This show is simple in its form but truly powerful in its execution. With unexpected belly laughs and tear-jerking moments, this show is definitely not to be missed.

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