Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Debauchery, drugs and diseases: 5 Guys Chillin @KingsHeadThtr


Life in London is just one big endless gory drug-fuelled sex party in 5 Guys Chillin'. It's a relentless look at the London gay chem-sex and chill-out scene by Peter Darney at the King's Head Theatre. It's not for the faint-hearted or those who have lived a sheltered life.

The piece has been created from interviews and sourcing material found through social media and apps. Darnley's uses the premise of a "chill-out" to get the guys talking. It's very effective, particularly once you get over the gay gore and start listening to the stories.

Among the graphic details is a picture of an empty and lonely gay scene in London. It also helps explain why with record rates of infection among men who have sex with men there is the push to provide PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) free on the NHS.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Soul searching: From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads @waterlooeast @ibizabowie


If music is the soundtrack to our lives, From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads puts Bowie as the soundtrack for eccentrics, outcasts or just troubled teens.

Adrian Berry’s fascinating play covers a young Bowie fan's pilgrimage to London. He visits his music idol’s London haunts.

It’s part journey of discovering who he is, but also a desire to connect to his father with the music of his hero.

As Martin, Alex Walton contorts and moves about the stage as the lanky awkward teen and occasional other character on the journey. As the sole performer he captures the spirit of the young fan and the people he encounters. But he also engages you as a storyteller of this young man’s journey to London.

Along the way there are Bowie songs, therapy sessions about bulimia and a dream sequence where he speaks to Bowie. The conversation with the other-worldly Bowie is a pre-recorded voice supplied by Rob Newman. Projections of album covers, London locations also hit us along the way.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Make them hear you: Ragtime @CharingCrossThr


Ragtime at Charing Cross Theatre takes the late nineties musical and lifts it into another realm. With a compact cast on a compact stage, everything seems more intense. It is more musical, more melodramatic and more relevant than ever before.

The cast double as the musicians. One minute they are singing the next minute they’re on the drums or accordion. Pianos whizz about the stage. Music and drama explode in front of you. There is so much happening (particularly in the frenetic first half) that it is breathtaking.

The show opens with an extended prologue introducing the characters and the music of a new syncopation that sets the tone for the rest of the evening. After the rousing chorus that ends it the audience burst into cheers

Monday, October 17, 2016

Previewing the slags: Confessional @swkplay


Confessional is in until 29 October at Southwark Playhouse. It’s an immersive production of an overlooked Tennessee Williams play that transplants the action to Southend on the Essex Coast.

The experience is the thing here where the audience joins the cast in a pub (an authentic looking boozer recreated in The Little at Southwark Playhouse) and the action kicks off all around you.

The piece centres around Leona Dawson (Lizzie Stanton). She is getting her act together after discovering her layabout boyfriend (Gavin Brocker) has been cheating on her with her mentally ill best friend. And it just happens to be the anniversary of her younger brother’s death.

When a couple of gay men come into the bar - one who looks a bit like her dead brother -  things start to get to breaking point. Amid all the drinking and rough talk it all starts to get a bit messy. You know where things are heading. All hell threatens to break loose. And it eventually does.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hard times, hard drinking, hard men: The Boys In The Band @ParkTheatre


The glass may be half empty but it's always going to be full of liquor or bile in The Boys In the Band. The alcohol starts flowing and next follows the loathing. But something unexpected watching this piece. Even amongst the bleak depiction of pre-Stonewall New York you get the sense they're a family. And they will probably patch things up in the morning. Once they get over their broken noses and hangovers. It is now playing at the Park Theatre before heading on a tour.

Mart Crowley's play was the first to present gay life to a mainstream audience. It is important to appreciate that it was once unique. Nowadays there isn’t a week that goes by in London when there isn’t a play about gay men in London. Usually it involves the actors getting naked. But this takes you back to an earlier time.

It is before chemsex. Before AIDS. Before Stonewall. Just drinking, poppers, a bit of dope and a whole lot of self hatred.  But an excellent ensemble and a brisk pace makes it for a crackling fun evening.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Fancy footwork: Floyd Collins @WiltonMusicHall


A cave man searching for fame and fortune - and finds it after he gets trapped in one - is the basis of the musical Floyd Collins, currently playing at Wilton's Music Hall.

Based on the true story of Kentucky cave explorer Collins. After getting his foot trapped he becomes a media sensation when a cub reporter (who is thin and small enough to enter the cave) interviews him. His subsequent story becomes syndicated across America.