Having seen him perform in Chinoyerem Odimba’s Black Love, and as a fellow Brummie, I was excited to experience Nathan Queeley-Dennis’ Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, particularly as he’s also the winner of the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.
Making his debut at the Royal Court, following a stint at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I’m pleased to report, Nathan Queeley-Dennis did not disappoint with his ‘love letter to Birmingham’. This short but sweet 6O minute one-man show, expertly covers much ground through his character, ‘Nathaniel’.
Disclaimer: you don’t have to be a Brummie to love this play.
Through humour, sensitivity and plenty of on point one liners, Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz, writer and actor Queeley-Dennis offers the audience a snapshot into life as a young, black man, navigating the dating scene, trying to find love and a place in society. From the hilariously depicted loyalty a black man has for his barber, an insight into the conversations within the mandem group chat (fascinating to me), micro-aggressions at work, the perils of online dating, actually dating as a whole, and an often rarely discussed subject, depression amongst black men. These are all beautifully woven together via an intertwining thread of references to his beloved hometown, Birmingham.
It’s a heartwarming hour and it’s impossible to not get instantly invested in Nathaniel – his wins become our wins and his heartbreak became ours – such is Queeley-Dennis’ empathetic style of writing.
As a Beyoncé stan, of course, a highlight for me was the Queen Bee medley but that’s just one of many standout moments of this incredibly sharp, witty, award-winning script which indulges us with a steady stream of relatable, laugh out loud moments. The Instagram DM exchange between Nathaniel and a prospective new barber had me in stitches.
There are simply not enough plays that shine the light on our second city and so this was a wonderful trip down memory lane for me, tinged with nostalgia, as I pictured the various references to Brum.
This play had me at ‘Bullring’. Black heart emoji. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for this talented newcomer. Perhaps the play will transfer to Birmingham…