4/5 Stars

★★★★ A Captivating and Impactful One-Man Show

Amy and Tom Milne review Heads-Up at Battersea Arts Centre

From Kieran Hurley’s first words, you can see why ‘Heads Up’ was 2016 Fringe First Award Winner with a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

His natural talent for storytelling, impressive pace and seemingly-effortless range means that, from this starting moment, he keeps the audience enthralled and enveloped throughout.

Sat at a lone desk, dramatically lit in the centre of an eerie smoke-filled stage, Kieran introduced four characters facing the end of the world. We have Mercy, a futures trader; Ash, a 12-year-old school girl; Leon, a drug-addled star; and Abdullah, a despondent barista. An usual use of the second person to tell the tale – “You go outside…” and a minimalist use of sound added additional depth to the production.

Fans of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ will appreciate parallels as our characters’ stories explore the results of capitalism, sexism, addiction; the bleak outlook being doused with mordantly dark humour. What’s more, as the stories unravel we must sit with the uncomfortable truth that the present moment means nothing without a sense of hope for the future.

We are reminded with a sharp bite that this is a representation of the society we live in: “A city. Just like this. Right now.” And through the 60-minute play we see the bigger themes trivialised; instead our characters turn to more meaningful experiences in the face of destruction: if there isn’t a future to live for, at least you can connect with others and live in the moment.

This interesting content and great execution is housed in a great venue – the Battersea Arts Centre – which greets you with a lively bar and fat cat to stroke. Perfect night-out material.

Tom and Amy Milne

Heads-Up plays at the Battersea Arts Centre until March 25th.


The Battersea Arts Centre has a record of hosting excellent fringe performances and supporting new talent such as Bucket List and London Stories.

At the moment the BAC is still trying to raise funds to support the reconstruction of the Grand Hall after the fire which near-destroyed the arts centre just over two years ago.

They recently announced an exciting fundraising auction with Christie’s in October 2017. Artworks and experiences donated by Battersea Arts Centre friends, including Grayson Perry and Emma Rice, will be under the hammer and there is also a chance to take home a piece of the old Grand Hall.

Currently, the BAC is looking to the future and inviting members of the public to suggest celebratory events that embody its civic spirit, to bring the rebuilt space to life in autumn 2018. How about a mass wedding vow renewal with all of the couples who got married in the Grand Hall over the decades? Or the return of a big Christmas lunch for local pensioners once held annually by the town hall? Why not limber up for a 48-hour dance marathon sound-tracked by the acclaimed BAC Beatbox Academy?

Get along to the Battersea Arts Centre, enjoy a piece of theatre or a piece of cake in the lovely cafe and tell them what you’d like to see in the rebuilt Grand Hall!

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