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Review: KH Del Rio Smith / DESCENT

KH del Rio Smith’s earnest D E S C E N T and Katie Hurley’s unapologetically brash You’re So F**king Croydon seem an unlikely double-bill, yet these solo identity plays come together in an evening of song, spoken word and comedy to present a stirring reminder of theatre’s ability to connect.

A keyboard and scattered possessions decorate the stage as KH tells us they inherited hoarder-ish tendencies from their mother. In the following 40 minutes, they deliver on this promise, presenting a patchwork autobiographical tale comprising objects that grow embodied and are discarded, extracts from the Sumerian myth of Inanna, heartfelt songs, and conversations with the audience and their younger self.

Encouraging the audience to draw connections, KH unveils their narrative carefully, negotiating revelations of sexual abuse with a tenderness towards their childhood self and finding strength in parallels with mythology. Yet the mythological framework does as much to generalise as it does to allow KH to access and process their trauma – something exacerbated by confessional moments that urge the audience to find themselves within the narrative. If this insistence on shared experience lacks subtlety, D E S C E N T’s power lies not in the forcing of connections but in the raw honesty and vulnerability of the multifaceted performance.

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