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You can take the boy out of Soho - Richard Lambert and Owen Dennis

David Cox (Photo: Brittain Photography)

Aug 25, 2022

Having loved Soho Boy this year we asked actor Owen Dennis and producer Richard Lambert how the Fringe has been for them this year.

So, how has this year's festival been going so far?

OD: It’s been going very well! Our show has been very well received and we’ve been very lucky with the audiences that we’ve had. I’ve had a great time, this being my first year at the fringe and I’ve seen lots of really cool things!

RL: Really good thank you!

You are approaching the final stretch. Will you be glad when the run ends or will you miss it?

OD: Of course I will miss it, but I won’t lie I am looking forward to having bit of a break. I’m actually jetting off on holiday as soon as the fringe is over so that’s very exciting! I can’t wait to put my feet up and relax!

RL: I’ll definitely miss it! Been a blast!

How are your stamina levels?

OD: Performing at the fringe has definitely tested my stamina. Being a recent graduate from drama school I’ve been used to the physical stamina but having to sing for an hour every day has proved to be quite challenging, but it’s been a very valuable experience.

RL: I’m doing OK but have had to drink a lot of coffee!

So, Owen after the euphoria of the opening few week or so is performing becoming a bit of a chore?

OD: Of course not! I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t genuinely enjoy it and want to do it every day!

Is it hard to maintain your enthusiasm every day (less one) for 3 weeks?

OD: Of course there are days when I’m more enthusiastic than others but being so immersed in the fringe experience and hearing such positive feedback about the show has helped me to maintain my enthusiasm.

What has LAMBCO productions contributed to " Soho Boy"?

OD: There would be no Soho Boy without LAMBCO Productions. The creative team that I’ve worked with on the show have been amazing! I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done and for giving me this amazing opportunity!

RL: SOHO BOY has been developed into this production by an incredible team. Starting with meetings and discussions with Paul Emelion Daly the writer and composer and then approaching incredible talented people to ask if they’d come on board. I’m very grateful and appreciative that such talented people will work with LAMBCO to bring productions such as SOHO BOY into the industry.

What is the background to the writing of "Soho Boy"?

OD: The show is written by the fabulous Paul Emelion Daly, so I guess this is a question for him! Paul is such a talented writer and I’m sure we’ll see more of his work in the future!

RL: Paul had written songs that just blew me away. When he sent me the tracks I knew I wanted to produce them. I’ve lived in London for 30 years and seen many a friend move to London, fall in love, have their hearts broken, become very lonely and look to fit in and find their “tribe”. This has sometimes led to temptations and reckless behaviour, addictions, sex with chemicals, and a general spiral into situations that can sometimes be in conflict with career progressions and/or relationships. I wanted to bring these issues into the general public domain. I didn’t want to produce an academic discussion behind “chem-sex” or “HIV” (there are plenty of other plays that have taken that path, but this isn’t SOHO BOY). SOHO BOY is a very real presentation of a set of all-too-common experience for a young man moving to London. It is targeted for everyone and not an exclusive gay community who are already well versed.

Having researched some of the issues, several things surprised me:

  1. HIV clinicians do their very best to down-play the impact of infection, of course they cannot dramatise someone with HIV. I contacted a HIV specialist doctor and was sent a script of a typical interaction with a patient and we presented the patient’s replies to the questions, without asking the questions. It is upto the audience to determine what has been asked. We know that with correct medication and monitoring, HIV is treatable and the virus can be Undetectable and therefore untransmissable.

  2. Moving to London can all too often become a lonely experience.

  3. Chem-Sex is a gay man’s issue – it’s not a straight man or a womean’s issue. Only gay men will present at a chem-sex addiction clinic for support. Only gay men will participate in taking a chemical to lower inhibitions that welcome sex with a group of gay men. This could be considered “rape by consent” in other contexts.

  4. Chem-sex isn’t discussed very much in the public domain outside of the gay community.

  5. Chem-sex can be so addictive that sex without chemicals can become impossible for some.

  6. It’s a really important story that’s very common that I feel should be discussed. I have personally experienced friends who are really struggling with what has happened in their lives.

How did you get involved in the show Owen?

OD: I auditioned for the role and was offered it the same day which was a little crazy!

Have you been surprised how much audiences have enjoyed it?

OD: I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect from the audiences. I trusted all the creative team that we had created something special and that people would enjoy, but there is always that doubt and imposter syndrome that creeps in!

This is your first professional show how thrilled were you to get the part and what is it like being an Edinburgh festival virgin?

OD: I was shocked as I wasn’t expecting to get the part considering I was a new graduate and fairly new in the industry.

There is nudity in the show. Is that easy for you to deal with?

OD: It was a little daunting at first but after doing so many performances it’s not really something I worry about anymore.

Your singing is fabulous. Have you always been able to sing? Do you remember when you first sang in public?

OD: I used to be a shy young kid, so the thought of singing in front of people would have scared me to death! I honestly don’t remember when I first started getting confidence in singing, I’d say it was through doing productions when I was younger where we all had to sing.

What is your favourite karaoke song?

OD: Tequila for a joke, or usually something by Lady Gaga.

One of the biggest changes I have noticed over the last few years at the Edinburgh festival is the rise of the solo show. Is it hard ( and lonely) having no other performers to interact with?

OD: I thought it would be going in to it, but because it was designed and rehearsed with just me on stage it just became natural. But because the team I was working with were so amazing it didn’t feel like I was on my own.

"Soho Boy" starts at 17.05pm. How do you pace your day?

OD: A lot of lying in til late! I try to take it easy before the show to save my energy for the performance.

How do you spend the rest of the day after the show?

OD: I’d see a show or two, meet up with friends for a drink. (I’m staying with three other actors from different shows) The majority of shows that I’ve seen have been in the evening after

I’ve finished my show!

Are there plans for "Soho Boy" at the end of the Edinburgh festival?

OD: Yes there are indeed! We are going back to London at The Drayton Arms Theatre from the 24th to 30th September! Then who knows where we’ll end up…watch this space!?

My festival memories go back to 1986. As this is your first Edinburgh festival what did you expect and how has the reality differed from your expectations?

OD: In a way it is what I expected it to be! I had a lot of friends who had given me advice and prepped me on what to expect!

Thanks to Owen and Richard for taking the time to answer our questions, you can see Owen in SOHO BOY until 27th August. Further information is below and available at

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: SOHO BOY, 5th to 27th August 2022 (theSpaceUK, Ed Fringe) 17:05 BETTE MIDLER AND ME, 5th to 27th August 2022 (theSpaceUK, Ed Fringe) 18:15 Head/Lining, 5th to 27th August 2022 (theSpaceUK, Ed Fringe) 22:15

Coming up in September in London: TICKLE 20th Sept to 1st Oct at the Drayton Arms Theatre 19:30 SOHO BOY 24th Sept to 1st Oct at the Drayton Arms Theatre 21:00

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