Nathaniel is full of love – for his barber, for techno, and for Birmingham. But he’s not yet found the one: he’s been ghosted and stood up, and he’s found every spark to be an absent one. It’s a tricky position for a romantic like him. Writer and performer Nathan Queeley-Dennis takes us through a series of Nathaniel’s dates with a joyful and cheeky humour that unfurls into a rich, intelligent look at Black masculinity and knowing oneself. Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz is an utter delight and an utter triumph.
Nathaniel is fully attentive to the world around him and such carefulness is often at the root of each comedic turn. The character is warm and forgiving, generous and trusting, qualities which make each romantic up and down tug that bit harder. And the play fills us up with all the sweet stuff, too: something of a Beyonce-collage, an ever chaotic group chat, and the lasting glitters of a Lush bath bomb.
But Queeley-Dennis isn't afraid of complex matters either. Nathaniel’s own issues – guarded with a rehearsed pretence and ever seeking himself in others – are unpacked slowly, with an almost shocking gentleness. As such, the play’s conclusion lands softly, restfully, while stirring us just so.
Throughout all the heartbreak, Queeley-Dennis plays out the quarter-life with equal parts fun and wisdom – an arguably infallible combination. Carried with an endearing confidence, we fall for Nathaniel and, in doing so, we fall for everything else.