Neurodivergent activist Charlie Keeble today reviews Wet Cement-a stage production held at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.
Wet Cement is a stage production about the stressful relationship between a neurodivergent man called Danny and his private tutor Ali. The two of them have got an awkward and temperamental past with each other when Danny was expelled from school and Ali had a hand in getting him removed from school. The play is written by Darrel Draper, and is a co-production between Temporal Horizons Productions and Small Steed Theatre.
This play is referred to as ‘a work in progress performance’ meaning that it’s a half constructed play that was performed with the actors reading the script in the front of the audience as they played their parts. This made me think of it as a metaphor for the play where the story is about neurodiversity and it was self-evident from the scatter brained mentality of the setting around the plot.
The drama was amazing and I felt very intrigued by the action. The characters were very strongly made and I think Moneer Elmasseek (Danny) and Linda Edmonds (Ali) played their parts well. It plays to a story about the frustrations of a relationship between a neurodiverse man and a neurotypical teacher. The story tackles a lot of themes around mental health, suicide, substance abuse, anxiety, depression and self harm.
After the play I met with Moneer, and I discovered that he had an advantage to playing this role because he is autistic. But the character of Danny is ADHD, which is also part of the neurodivergent spectrum of conditions. I think he played Danny with raw emotion and had powerful dialogue to work with that gave credibility to the story. I could see the indifference in the situation of the story as it reminded me of my own past struggles living with my autism.
Danny’s relationship with his tutor Ali is dramatically strong and the two characters reveal a lot about the societal issues that disabled people face. Like the way that neurodivergent Danny struggles to communicate his feelings and ambitions to Ali, which demonstrates what it’s like when I struggle with elaborating my thoughts and views to people in interviews. There are challenges that come with handling the needs and support of neurodivergent people that the play addresses here.
Towards the end Danny and Ali do show that the despair of their working relationship affects their mental health. This is typical of all the difficulties that people with disabilities have with their peers and I think they performed it with a very deep understanding of the struggles of disability and mental health. The two characters are able to find a mutual compromise with each other.
I am glad that Wet Cement was made and it shows that even though you don’t get along with people because of their indifferences you have to work hard on resolving your struggles in life.
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