Nigel Charnock, Hell Bent

Review in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

Nigel Charnock is indeed a remarkable performer. Not only can he dance and act but in Hell Bent we were also confronted with his singing talents. However, we soon discovered that the confident transvestite singer cum Shirley Bassey cabaret act by night, was a troubled, sad, depressed, confused, lonely (the list goes on…) human being by day. Yet to say he played a ‘character’ would be wrong. In this, the culmination to a trilogy of one-man shows obsessed with sex and relationships, we were presented with fragments of his own life experiences and beliefs through extremes of dance, movement and voice work.

Charnock has no fear of exposing his innermost depravities on stage – blatantly (and humorously) commenting on his own sexual perversions and anxieties whilst suggesting that he is not alone with such desires.

Although there were some incredibly exhausting and masochistic movement/voice sequences as he recklessly threw himself from the metal staircase that dominated the set, or stepped across broken crockery when frustration turned to violence, the show also possessed some darker moments. We saw through the chirpy, sarcastic facade and discovered a man desperate for human love, warmth and companionship.

Just as the cabaret artist found release in singing, so too Charnock discovered liberation in performing – a licence that let him speak his mind as he both verbally and physically abused the audience. The show consistently played on levels of reality and one was left questioning whether we really had seen the ‘real’ Charnock or merely a consistent stage persona.

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 22