A Guide for the Homesick: Theatre Review

I had NO idea what A Guide for the Homesick was about – I literally went to see it because I knew I would see Douglas Booth in the intimate space of Trafalgar Studios’ Studio 2.

The play is set in a hotel room in Amsterdam. Teddy (Clifford Samuel) and Jeremy (Booth) return to the room after meeting in a bar. Jeremy doesn’t have his own room and needs to kill time before his flight and Teddy is hoping to make a friend. Over the course of the night, they gradually spill their secrets, with flashbacks taking us to Jeremy’s clinic in Uganda and Teddy’s fight with his friend Ed earlier in that same hotel room.

It was really interesting watching these characters get to know each other in the present and finding out what had happened in the past. The action switches seamlessly from past to present – with both actors playing dual roles within the same hotel room setting – which threw me the first time but I got used to it. There are easy markers to help establish which story we’re in – Booth wears glasses as Jeremy and not as Ed, who is in the manic phase of his bipolar disorder, while Samuel adopts an African accent to play Jeremy’s patient and friend Nicholas.

I don’t really know what I expected from A Guide for the Homesick but I was surprised by what went down. It was funnier than I thought it would be but also very sad and dark, addressing topics such as suicide and the treatment of gays in Africa. I also didn’t expect to witness a same-sex sex scene, Booth’s bare ass, or him getting drenched in a rain shower onstage either.

I never really bought the attraction between Jeremy and Teddy but I enjoyed learning more about their characters and they were both captivating to watch. A two-person play is a huge undertaking and I was impressed watching them slip between characters and stories with ease. I was not aware of Samuel before this but he was the standout acting-wise, even though I couldn’t take my eyes of Booth for more shallow reasons. It was so nice seeing him that close.

A Guide for the Homesick doesn’t come to a clear conclusion – a pet peeve of mine – but I enjoyed watching the story unfold in such an intimate space.

A Guide for the Homesick runs at the Trafalgar Studios’ Studio 2 in London until 24 November. There is still loads of space left and tickets have been reduced so check out here if you’re interested. 

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