‘Future Me’

Last night: to the Only Connect theatre in King’s Cross for ‘Future Me’, a superb new play about a liberal, middle-class lawyer convicted of paedophilia, and how it affects those around him. On the surface it looks in danger of being a box-checking and hand-wringing Issue Play,  but thankfully the writing is strong enough to keep it as a good, gripping drama about people first, topical debates second.  Though that’s arguably an issue in itself: daring to look at society’s modern ‘monsters’ as even the slightest bit redeemable is too much for some. Had the play been written by, say, a tabloid editor, all the characters would have had to kill themselves in the first five minutes.

In fact, there was a Louis Theroux documentary on TV only this week – which clocked up a few complaints –  where he visited a Californian institution of correction for sex offenders. Just like ‘Future Me’, this real-life jail featured a sympathetic, rather sweet man who’d taken up guitar playing, and a female prison therapist who spoke entirely in therapy jargon. The phrase ‘Future Me’ is a rehabilitation term used by the play’s therapist character, who actually seemed more human than her real-life Californian counterpart in the TV programme.

I’d been made aware of the play because I’m acquainted with the actor David Benson, who appears in it as an unrepentant fellow inmate, chillingly peddling intellectual pederast theories. Something of a departure from his one-man show about Kenneth Williams.

Then I heard from my fellow Beautiful & Damned DJ Miss Red at the Boogaloo, aka Robyn Isaac, that she was in it too, as the main character’s girlfriend. And it turns out the music is by Simon Bookish, whom I slightly know from a third London social scene. So that clinched my attendance.

A play about paedophiles in a theatre in King’s Cross may seem hardly a big draw for a Friday night, yet the venue (a former Baptist church) is pretty much packed. In the audience I spot the comedian David Mitchell, of Peep Show and Mitchell & Webb fame. I presume he’s not entirely like his Peep Show character, reluctantly dragged to the theatre by a girlfriend, secretly wishing he was at home watching a DVD of ‘Heat’ (‘So much cheaper than seeing a play. And you get Al Pacino AND Robert De Niro.’)

I go for a drink afterwards with Miss Red and Mr Benson at the nearest pub, The Carpenter’s Arms, round the corner in King’s Cross Road. Nice old fashioned place, looking unchanged for decades, and not yet affected by the ongoing gentrification of King’s Cross. Turns out Sheila Hancock grew up there in the 40s and 50s, when her parents ran the bar.

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