From the 26th to the 28th of March Nottingham New Theatre was home to a ‘queer, punk extravaganza’ in Nay Dhanak’s Pain Threshold. The story follows queer love and gender expression told via emotional monologue, quick wit, and punchy covers of Ezra Furman’s music. Impact’s Olivia Hughes reviews.
The performance opens with the lead, Yin (played by T Kenyon) performing the first of many brilliant and engaging songs. The audience is immediately introduced to the idea that this character is one that is struggling after a recent breakup. The character emotes feelings common to those suffering with heartbreak such as questioning their value and worth, but T Keynon invites the audience in with a level of nuance and subtlety in his acting that truly was a highlight of the whole performance. His ability to jump from quietly and gently dealing with the character’s grief and building to a crescendo in anger matching the tone set by the musical performance by the live band and T’s vocals.
Accompanying T’s outstanding performance was that of Bea Robertson as Olive. The character was Yin’s ex-girlfriend. Bea beautifully matched T’s tone and powerful performance exploring her character’s own depth and challenges in an equally potent way.
The take on the trans journey was a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to watch
The characters never share dialogue, the two perform monologues side by side but never acknowledge each other. Each character can be seen to interrupt the other at points. Whilst the characters navigated the breakup they shared; they simply won’t communicate with each other. This invites us into the individual stories each character is trying to portray without complicating the storyline or shifting the focus to the breakup itself, rather than emotions the characters feel surrounding it. Overall, it was executed fantastically and was impactful in the small and intimate theatre.
One cannot see this performance and not mention Yin’s gender experience and how the writer portrays this in the show. Yin is a trans non-binary character and details their experience with gender dysphoria, gender euphoria and the active choices that trans people make in their experiences. This take on the trans journey was a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to watch. Alongside the writing, this production deals with other major themes such as loss of family members and chronic illness, once again handling all topics with care and real insight.
The live music was also a real highlight of the performance adding an impactful break in monologue often at crucial parts but taking away from the seriousness of it all and reminding the audience that the show has the ability to have light and dark moments in conjunction with one another. This coupled with the quick wit of both characters on stage meant that the show never felt too heavy.
This performance is one that engaged and provoked the audience into thinking about their own personal journeys and was a joy to watch. The whole cast and crew worked harmoniously to create impactful theatre.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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