Buff is a heart-wrenching one-hander which tells the emotional story of a gay man living his life through everyone but himself.
The sheer talent of David O’Reilly is worth the ticket price alone. His portrayal of the juxtaposition between comedy and tragedy in Ben Fensome’s terrific script is not an easy task, but is expertly delivered with truth rather than ‘drama’.
The fast-paced piece sees O’Reilly’s character interact with the people in all areas of his life, and his ability to create every scene so honestly leaves you believing you have heard every word of both sides of the conversations.
Fensome’s ingenious writing is honest, raw and sometimes uncomfortable to witness, with haunting undertones of mental health pressures created from social media and dating apps, soaked in the desperation that many feel to try and be something they’re not. Throughout, it cleverly and respectfully confronts the body-image issues created by the common societal acceptance of fat shaming and the continuous praise of muscled physiques.
The play’s production is nothing more than a single chair in an empty space, and yet you leave having seen the character’s classroom, apartment and even the door slamming in his face at a failed hook-up: all possible because of Scott Le Crass’s canny and unpretentious direction, paired with O’Reilly’s unwavering characterisation and skill.
Fringe theatre really doesn’t get much better than this.
A Vault star is born – ★★★★★ 5 stars from The Recs