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Grief and fluff: Tiger @OmnibusTheatre

Death is something we all will face. After all, nobody gets out of here alive. But how do you get past it when grief is all you can feel? And this is the premise of Tiger, currently playing at Omnibus Theatre . It's a fascinating exploration of the stages of grief. And with a terrific cast to take you on this journey, it's an endearing and sweet story that has you engaged from the start, wondering what will happen next.  We are introduced to Alice (Poppy Allen-Quarmby) as she gives a stand-up routine. It's not particularly funny and starts to veer into the topic of dying. Something isn't right. She used to be good at this but can't move forward. Soon, she is back in her London apartment with her partner Oli (Luke Nunn), discussing that they need to get a lodger to make ends meet.  Oli is a doctor working night shifts at the local NHS hospital. Alice is not ready to face a return to stand up or anything. So when the first potential lodger arrives (Meg Lewis), looking

My night with Ben (and Kam and Russ and AJ and Simon): Jock night @7DialsPlayhouse

Some of the PR to Jock Night says London is about to get a taste of Manchester with this piece. You could interpret that many ways, but it does feel as if you become immersed in a particular Mancunian world of sex, drugs and Coronation Street. Written and directed by Adam Zane, it's a sharp-tongued, drug-fuelled odyssey into an unconventional world with more than a few sharp observations about life in the gay ghetto. It's currently playing at the 7 Dials Playhouse

The play is set in Ben's bedroom and revolves around a famous party night in Manchester where the dress code requires jocks or sportswear. After the party finishes, then come the drugs. Then the sex and then the chillout, and then they do it all over again. But Ben (David Paisley) is also looking for love - albeit in all the wrong places. 

His friends are Kam (Sam Goodchild), a quick-witted man from Sussex who found a home in Manchester. Then there's Russell (Matthew Gent), a gym bunny and aspiring Instagram influencer. A night out ends with AJ (Levi Payne) joining them. And then, a moderately known porn performer Simon (George Hughes), answers a dating app message, and there are five. But AJ's from Doncaster and doesn't understand about playing safely. Simon is out of control and struggling with multiple addictions. With such a premise, expect only an unconventional ending. 

Yet, for a story that involves sex, and a lot of it, it's not a particularly erotic story. Instead, interspersed with Victoria Wood one-liners and the various drama arcs of Coronation Street, there are more digs at gay life in the Village. The endless hookups, the multiple dating apps, the drugs to get you up, take you down and keep you from catching something. When the newly written second act comes around, the message is clear that the party is over. 

The cast works hard to deliver the comedy and drama, bearing their souls as they bare their buttocks in various jockstraps throughout the play's two hours.

But Zane has given the audience a gentle ride through the wild, crazy hedonism. With a mix of filthy talk, innuendo and bawdy laughs, he throws out a few life lessons and wry observations. Particularly as the play juxtaposes all the freedoms that gay men can enjoy post-Stonewall, post-AIDS crisis while remaining trapped in a culture partly of their own making. And in doing so, we potentially have an important new gay play for our time. Time will tell whether it was all just a phase. 

Written and directed by Adam Zane, Jock Night is at the 7 Dials Playhouse until 4 November. 


Photos by Dawn Kilner 

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