A new one-man show explores topics like toxic masculinity, growing up gay and Catholic, and men's mental health.
Coventry-born actor and musician Declan Bennett wrote Boy out the City, which he will perform at the Edinburgh Fringe.
In his hometown, a sneak peek of the autobiographical work will be presented.
It was written during a time of isolation during the pandemic, according to him, and covers "the entire gamut of emotions.".
Just before the coronavirus lockdown, the actor—who played Charlie Cotton in EastEnders and is well-known for his work on Broadway and the West End—moved with his partner from London to the Oxfordshire countryside.
"At first it was this dreamy idyllic life," he recalled, before his partner accepted a position abroad and left him by himself. .
The story's premise is that this man begins to experience many memories and voices from his past as his loneliness and solitude increase—possibly as a result of drinking a little bit too much—he said.
He realized it was time to deal with these stories once they came to light.
He claimed, "It's not a gay story, it's not a lonely story; it's an experience of a human being going through various emotions at various times in his life.
It was difficult, he said, to grow up in Coventry's sizable Irish Catholic neighborhood in the 1990s.
If you're 14 and reading things in the newspaper and you know you're feeling that, what choice do you have but to just shut it down and say, "That's not me? " The media was still using derogatory terms about homosexuals and gay people. " .
"I pushed it away because I didn't want to be gay and I thought it would be too challenging.
When I moved to London at the age of 17, it completely opened up a new world for me and gave me the courage to come out. ".
It had been "scary" to write such an honest piece of theater, he continued.
There is a ton of enjoyment to be had, in addition to humor and touchingness. It is brutal and raw, which is exactly the kind of theater I enjoy seeing. ".
He said that bringing the play to Coventry for a preview was "an important part of the journey.".
When we used to roller skate in the Coventry Baths on a Sunday night, that was like our big night out, and then we'd go to Fishy Moores afterwards for chips, he said, "there's an entire section about it.
"For me and the others in there, it's going to feel like a real event and bring back some wonderful memories. ".
From August 2 to August 28, Boy out the City is presented at the Underbelly in Cowgate, Edinburgh.
On Thursday, July 6, he will give a preview performance at LTB, Litten Tree Building Showrooms, 1 Warwick Road, Coventry.