Have you ever wondered what goes through people’s head in certain situations? What do you think about during a date? Or the random thoughts that go through your head during sex? What about when someone’s mental health is deteriorating?
The story follows Ben , a working class chef, who’s life spirals out of control after trying to rekindle a relationship with his mum. His work, friendships and love life are all tested as his week goes from bad to worse.
Netflix and Chill is essentially an in depth look at male mental health and how our inner dialogue can have such a massive impact on how we see and react to everyday situations. It follows the story of Ben, played by Tom Stocks who also wrote the play, who works as a chef in a pub and has been estranged from his mum for over 11 years. It opens with him meeting his mum for the first time since she left her abusive partner and is now trying to rekindle their relationship, something that is only touched on at the start of the play. Immediately the inner dialogue becomes apparent and we get the feel of how the story is going to be told.
It seems like nothing is working out for Ben at the moment, from the relationship with his mum to his lack of progress on Tinder with most dates cancelling on him at the last minute. Only Ryan, his good friend at work, appears to be a constant. Ryan is over the top, loud, upbeat and appears to be living life to the fullest at the weekends. He’s crude, outspoken and tells it like it is, however inappropriate at the time. The connection between the two characters highlights the pressures men face in modern life, with the toxic world of ‘lad culture’ and the difficulties they face in all situations when it comes to talking about their feelings.
The inner dialogue that runs throughout will be familiar to most people. We all have those ‘what if’ moments, those constant nagging doubts and the replaying of conversations over and over in our minds. Then add in the bravado of the early twenties age group, modern dating, online and off, and the pressure to be living life to the fullest and you will have an idea of the types of subjects covered in this play. The name ‘Netflix and Chill’ is an indicator itself due to the modern meaning attached to it.
It certainly doesn’t shy away from awkward topics, scenes or conversations throughout. It uses crude and raw language as would be used by that age group and is an unapologetic look at how tough navigating a new relationship can be with all the modern pressures pushing heavily from the edges. This is harshly highlighted with Ben becoming overwhelmed on a night out, having had too much to drink and seeing his friend Ryan head home with his schoolgirl crush, it culminates in a monumental breakdown of sorts at the club. This whole scene and the lead up is an incredible piece of acting by Tom Stocks and it certainly feels like it comes from the heart.
However dark the play becomes, it is portrayed with great humour and the bravado of lads banter lifts the dark moments into something completely relatable and real. Using the deflection of comedy there are stories of tragic sexual conquests, prostitute encounters in Magaluf and dare I even mention the bus tray ejaculation! Throw in the bedroom scene with Ben and Sophie, which leaves no holds barred in its hilarious internal narrative, and you will be laughing out loud. The play is entertaining throughout regardless of its subject.
At different points in the play both Sophie and Jill give Ben the opportunity to talk about what is going on, however, this only encapsulates the fact that men are the ones that still need to breakdown the stigma of mental health amongst each other. The play is a stark reminder that with male mental health there is no one mask that fits all, it can present itself in different ways and can be very hard to detect. It’s a story written from personal experiences and aims to be a pathway to approach and open conversations around mental health and male suicide.
Netflix and Chill is at The Drayton Arms Theatre until Feb 29th 2020
Tickets £16 / £14 (concessions)
Ben – Tom Stocks
Mum – Julia Binysh
Jill – Charlotte Price
Ryan – Joseph Lindoe
Sophie – Emily Ellis
Writer – Tom Stocks
Director – Luke Adamson
Producer – JLA Productions & Actor Awareness
Sound Design – Luke Adamson
Set and Lighting – JLA Productions
Photography – Cam Harle Photography