Passing By, a rare revival of an early Martin Sherman play is an opportunity to return to the carefree days of the early 1970s New York. This is a time where being gay could get you arrested and the only disease to fear catching was either hepatitis or gonorrhea. It is a comedy of sorts, but what was groundbreaking at the time was its frank portrayal of a couple who just happened to be gay rather than a play where being gay was the whole point of the play. It is a pity that some of this context is lost in this revival at the Tristan Bates Theatre which may leave you wondering what was the show all about.
Bent where being gay and Jewish was given a much more dramatic and shocking context. This story about chance encounters feels as it it has inspired other gay themed stories such as Weekend (without the infectious diseases). Go see it for an appreciation of a different time and place, even if you may not see at first the point of it all.
Passing By is at the Tristan Bates Theatre until 30 November. It is a transfer of the Finborough Theatre production.
Photo credit: Production photos / Scott Rylander