This play by Joe Dipietro has quite a bit of notoriety for its frank, explicit take on gay sex and relationships. It’s also a reimagining of Schnitzler’s La Ronde, comprised of varied scenes and characters. This version directed by Adam Roebuck may work in structure and storytelling, yet may not make it elementally clear that we are seeing a long list of different characters from the four actors on stage.
The fine quartet of acting talent starts with Alex Britt, the lead who envelopes the sexed-up and liberated ease of hookups and seemingly gets away with most things. He does well with the messy characters he has to play, commanding a lot of control over the older men in their lives. Charlie Condou brings a more serious, grounded tone to the flair, hung up on the rules of an open relationship and looking after the younger lads in his life, as if a sugar daddy, if you will. Derek Mitchell gets variety and mania in all his roles (his frustrated tutor was also a highlight). Perhaps the wittiest and most memorable is the dizzying playwright, who gets some of the best lines, awash with breakneck, scarf-flipping energy. Stanton Plummer-Cambridge also gets some steamy and touching moments, be it the soldier, actor etc. Though Stanton is from the United States, the other actors were hit-and-miss with their attempts to replicate an accent from that country. I was taken unawares by their openness to nudity and fierce sexual moments.
There remains a thorough line about love being love and sex being sex, no matter the gender. Though due to the influence, perhaps there are too many characters to really digest everything within its ninety-minute runtime. The set by Cara Evans is simple: a slight, round bed, with panel doors acting as mirrors, entrances and visions of lovers or lost ones and that’s it. It’s a cramped space though I think the show got away with it. Lighting by Alex Lewer honours the now familiar bisexual colours (purple, pink hues et al) alongside the ambience of steam rooms, dance clubs and vibrant, passionate bedrooms.
The play has seen an update with drugs for sexual diseases, hookup apps and other aspects of gay identity seen today. Saying this, the show focus upon a certain type of gay man (yes, both black and white) but also the classically attractive, the “fit” guy if you will, sometimes older as well. This does remain only a part of the gay community today. Only a part.
It runs till 18th June.
Review: James Ellis Photo: Darren Bell