Review by Tatum Stafford
Every so often, you see a show that won’t leave you for a while. This is exactly how I felt walking out of Ben Target: LORENZO at Summerhall – admittedly, with a few tears in my eyes.
As we entered the beautiful venue, the Anatomy Lecture Hall, Ben welcomed us in with a small cup of coffee and a big smile. On each seat was a pen and a piece of paper which reads, “What’s your fantasy death?”. The show began a few minutes after we had jotted down our answers.
The story is a love letter to Lorenzo Wong, Ben’s uncle, who suffered a stroke and required in-home care, which Ben offered to provide. It encapsulates the weeks and months Ben spent with him, and takes us back to the house they first met in in London, some of Ben’s early interactions with adults, and Ben’s admiration for Lorenzo’s silly side, which he always made time for and preached the importance of to Ben and his family.
Above all, Ben is a masterful storyteller. At one point in the show, he describes his work as “performance art with the occasional punchline”; a nod to his years of stand-up comedy experience, some of which he admits have not gone as well as he would have hoped. This is the perfect way to sum up his work – it gives the audience breathing space to listen and absorb his story and his account of events in his life, whilst also offering punctuation of laughter and glimmers of hope.
This show offers some really special morals and words of wisdom to its audience, without ever becoming preachy or obvious. Ben expertly weaves details into his story which come around and pay off in spades. It culminates in a very powerful ending which had the audience entranced and appreciative of Ben’s generosity in sharing this story and the legacy of Lorenzo with us.
Big props to the show’s two directors, Adam Brace, who sadly passed away before the show opened, and Lee Griffiths. The direction of the show is impactful and has created some beautiful moments. I also loved the lighting, designed by Robert Wells, which helped set the scene when moments of the story jumped to different times and locations.
While the set may look sparse, it is by no means simple. An ode to Lorenzo’s love of carpentry and career as an architect, it morphs and unfolds in curious ways to help progress the story along, and illustrate different chapters of Ben’s life. Without giving too much away, it displays a gorgeous model of Ben’s family’s London home, works as a functional woodworking bench, and has a few surprises up its sleeve that are a delight to watch in real-time.
This show is an absolute triumph, and I feel very grateful to have experienced it amongst a sold-out audience on a Sunday morning at the Fringe. I’d highly recommend snapping up a ticket if you can – Ben will make you feel very welcome.