Hymn is written by by actor and writer Lolita Chakrabarti (Life of Pi, Invisible Cities) she is married to Adrian Lester.
Chakrabarti delivers a brilliant two-hander that sees brothers Gil and Benny meet at their father Gus’s funeral for the first time both are nearing 50. The brothers could not be more different legitimate son Gil (Adrian Lester of Hustle and Red Velvet ) you can say is handed the silver spoon – a good education and career – his father’s wealth handed to him on a plate, while illegitimate son Benny (Danny Sapani of Les Blancs and Killing Eve), has emotional struggles with a mother who had mental issues while he was growing up.. The play sees, although apprehensively at first, the brothers form a bond and through various snapshot scenes they hang out at the gym, talk family and plan a a business venture. Bonded by music they enjoy old tracks that remind them of what they have in common bringing some enjoyable scenes as they have a number of dance-offs.
Hymn at the Almeida. Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani. Photo credit: Marc Brenner
Hymn is a song led piece celebrating sounds from Bill Withers’ ‘Lean On Me’ to Will Smith’s ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It’. Lester sings live, not really a surprise, that he can sing. Sublime casting as the two actors play to their strengths. Lester’s Gil homes in on the what writer Chakrabarti said drove the idea behind the character that “you never really know who people are”, we see Gil’s happy exterior dissolve into a self-sabotage. Sapani’s Benny has you rooting for him as he emerges from the down trodden Benny, to a new man who you see in the end has a new found grace and confidence.
Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani. Photo credit: Marc Brenner
It is not all highs for the brothers as things take a different turn and the fun-loving Gil’s character gets a little darker as he develops a love for drink.
Adrian Lester. Photo credit: Marc Brenner
Hymn tells a story of brotherhood and friendship and how families collide and mix. A tale of self-destruction and joy. With the added message of sometimes you do not really see what is in front of a you and a cry for help may be to late.
The play was supposed to have a month long run in February at the Almeida Theatre but lockdown has forced the production online which is a treat for audiences. Good writing and great performances really don’t need that much props and with seasoned actors like Danny Sapani and Adrian Lester at the helm you can sit back and a enjoy a strong piece of theatre. With credit to the director Blanche McIntyre (The Writer, A Winter’s Tale), who has “imaginatively” reimagined the production for the screen and a virtual audience. 90MINS NO INTERVAL