Wife swap: Four Play @Theatre503
Twenty-first century first world problems are at the fore in this funny take on modern love in Four Play. It is currently running at Theatre 503.
There are plenty of gay plays you can see these days. Most involve a flimsy plot that is just an excuse to get a bunch of actors naked. In London they are worthy of a genre in their own right (my suggestion is #shitforgays). But this piece explores emotions that are more than skin deep. Perhaps.
The premise is that Rafe (Cai Brigden) and Pete (Michael Gilbert) are stuck in a rut. They have been together since university and after seven years they want to see what sleeping with another man is like. They approach Andrew (Michael James), an acquaintance, to ask if he wouldn't mind sleeping with them. But things get complicated when Andrew's boyfriend Michael (Peter Hannah) objects to the arrangement.
An thus unfolds a farce that feels part like an update of My Night With Reg for the millennials. Death and incurable diseases are less scary than monogamy and likability. But Jake Brunger's script deftly handles what passes for a crisis with the young people of today.
Of course that doesn't make the characters sympathetic. The pretty light box set design also makes it feel as if the action takes place in some gay nightclub. But the story suggests it might be better off set in some dreary beige London flat. That would be more in keeping with the fictionalised domesticity both couples seem so desperate to have.
The four actors handle the material well. Brigden is hilarious at times as the nervous and chatty Rafe. James gives a strong and focused performance as the hunky and sex-obsessed Andrew. Hannah displays wonderful comic timing in the scene that catches out the other three and their one-off fling.
Their performances and the sharp observations in the piece make for a refreshing take on gay plays and modern relationships.
Four Play runs at Theatre 503 until 12 March.
Photo credit: Production photos