Interview: Meet Benjamin Salmon, writer of the male Fleabag play ‘Blowhole’ at Soho Theatre

For LGBT+ History Month, LondonWorld spoke to playwright and actor Benjamin Salmon about his solo show Blowhole and the capital’s queer scene.

Meet “Him”, a muddled, gay 24-year-old on a quest to lose his virginity and find intimacy and connection in the sometimes “brutal” and “soul destroying” London.

This is the central character of Blowhole, a one-man play written and performed by Crouch End’s Benjamin Salmon.

Influenced by writers such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lena Dunham and Michaela Coel, Salmon has created this honest and heartwarming piece of work exploring the themes of unrequited love and grief.

Playwright and actor Benjamin Salmon performing in his one man show Blowhole. Credit: Darren Bell

Blowhole has often been described as the gay version of Fleabag, and Salmon welcomes this comparison saying he was keen to write a queer story about a flawed and messy character.

The 26-year-old playwright and actor speaks to LondonWorld about his solo show, the capital’s queer scene and his favourite hang out spots in Crouch End and central London.

Male version of Fleabag

“I think the reason why my play has been described as the male version of Fleabag is that I’m quite good at writing in my own voice,” Salmon explained.

“But I can’t help but admit that I’ve been influenced by writers such as Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but also Lena Dunham, Michaela Coel, Sharon Horgan and Issa Rae, particularly women who write in such a fearless way which is so explicit and honest about the experiences that they’ve had.

“I think that those are the kind of stories that really excite me and I think a lot of those creators and writers write about characters who keep f***ing up and I find that so interesting as an audience member of theatre or television.”

Salmon said he felt like he had never seen this kind of work with queer characters before and was keen to adapt this theme for his solo show.

“I’m not interested in perfect human beings, I’m interested in people who are flawed, who are messy in all sorts of ways which is really exciting.”

Playwright and actor Benjamin Salmon performing in his solo show Blowhole. Credit: Darren Bell

London’s queer scene

Salmon, who grew up in the small but “perfectly lovely” village of Alvechurch in Worcestershire, says that London is a great place for the LGBT+ community.

“You can’t have an identity there like you can in London so it feels like the most exciting place in the world for someone like me,” he said.

He said however that although the queer scene is so broad and vast it can be quite complicated.

“I think to be honest the politics and the difficulty of sometimes navigating that scene can be really tricky, especially if you’re young and you’re just beginning to find out what your gay identity is,” he explained.

“I think in London some of the queer spaces aren’t that diverse, some of those clubs and spaces can feel quite cliquey and not as safe or as fun as you would expect them to be and the people that take up space there sometimes it can feel not entirely welcoming.

“On the flipside of that, is you find somewhere that is brilliant and you can’t underestimate the importance of having so many wonderful queer friends in your life who all happen to live in London.

“That’s the real plus of London for me.”

Playwright and actor Benjamin Salmon at home in Crouch End. Credit: Richard Davenport

Favourite spots in London

Salmon, who is an associate artist at the National Youth Theatre and an alumni of Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab, says the city can have a Carrie Bradshaw effect on you.

“You want to be the most fabulous and successful version of yourself,” Salmon said.

“I have a lot of pride in being a Londoner and living here.”

Being a Crouch End resident he says his favourite spot is Beam, an independent family run cafe.

“It’s the quintessential place to go for brunch with a friend and I also love Crouch End for the pubs,” he told LondonWorld.

In terms of central London, he loves the french art deco restaurant, Brasserie Zédel based in Piccadilly Circus.

“I’m a bougie bitch who loves the high life,” he laughed, saying he enjoys going to different high end eateries in the city.

In terms of theatre, he loves Soho Theatre for its broad programme and the National Theatre.

“When you see a really big work at the National it’s just magical and it feels really quintessentially London as well when you leave the theatre and you’re on the river,” he added.

Looking to the future, Salmon is hoping to make the switch to television writing focusing on similar stories about messy and complicated characters.

He also hopes to write a tv script about friendship, which is something very important to him.

“Blowhole” opens this week in Soho Theatre, with performances on Wednesday February 9 and Thursday February 10.