From the moment Benjamin McCann stalks onto the Venue 13 stage and the lights come up on his ragged and dirty body, the audience are entranced. Forty-five minutes spent in the company of Grit, the titular lead, lie somewhere between visceral feast and terrifying nightmare. Grit takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has people fending for themselves on the streets. An abandoned Tesco becomes a battleground and a sanctuary, our protagonist always one left turn away from death.
McCann is, simply put, sensational. He is a mesmerising presence, holding the audience in the palm of his hands with an intense and magnetic performance. He sweats profusely, and it’s no surprise – the level of physical exertion is almost frightening to watch, but it’s a testament to McCann’s complete immersion into the character.
Halfway through Grit, the story starts to lose some of its coherency. New characters aren’t properly explained and the frenetic speed doesn’t allow for them to breathe. It definitely is the writing that feels underdeveloped overall – McCann attempts to juxtapose the visual chaos with a lyrical script and, at times, the rhyming is effective. It’s not consistent, though. McCann can’t always keep up the song-like rhythm, and it often ends up sounding like normal speech that just happens to rhyme.
What holds it all together, though, is the performance – despite how confusing the narrative starts to get, McCann remains a stunning stage presence. When the lights finally come down for the last time, it becomes clear just how exhausting the whole experience is. It’s a fascinating watch with a ton of potential, and McCann is a star in the making.