London is bursting at the seams with theatre and this autumn is looking particularly gay. Here are 5 things that are on my radar for the cooler weather to come.
The Classic One:
“The Boys in the Band” is having a revival at the Park Theatre, London. Mr and Mr, Mark Gatiss and his husband Ian Hallard are appearing in this overdue revival of a classic gay play from 1968. Self-loathing gay man Harold isn’t happy about aging and is in for an interesting birthday night as the drinks flow too freely and one of his close friends has bought him a hot male hooker for the night. The play shocked straight audiences when it first played. It also divided gay audiences with some seeing it as a making headway in the fight for gay rights and others seeing it as a negative portrayal of waspish queens wallowing in self-pity. Not so different from some of the reactions to the way the media presents gay men in the 21st century. See what you think for yourself. This should be a corker.
The Historical One:
Kenny Morgan returns for a second run at The Arcola in Dalston, London. Mike Poulton based this play around the events that inspired Terrence Rattigan to write his work The Deep Blue Sea. In 1949 Rattigan’s on/off lover, the eponymous Morgan, gassed himself to death after struggling with diminishing success in his acting career and a turbulent love affair. It’s a fascinating glimpse of what life for a gay man might have been like in the post-war period and there’s a stellar turn from Paul Keating as Morgan. TheGayUK saw this first time around and I gave it a thumping good 4 stars.
Run at the Arcola Tuesday 20 September – Saturday 15 October. They also have Pay What You Can Tuesdays (tickets in person from 6pm – limited and subject to availability).
The Fringey One:
The tiny Hope Theatre in Islington is perched above a pub on Upper Street and this month has these short morsels on offer, lasting 90 minutes in total. Two Short Plays About Gays are Middle Aged Rent which is about a teenager lost in the maze that was Eighties London, long before mobile phones, social media & Grindr. How he comes out, both literally and figuratively, is the focus of this new piece, specifically written to premiere at The Hope. The Diva Drag is a bittersweet story of love and (possible) reconciliation. Do you go to your homophobic mother’s funeral, or go on stage as her instead?
Sounds like a fascinating hour and a half in an intimate setting. Theatre in this small a venue can be visceral and fierce so here’s hoping for both.
Runs at The Hope until 24th of September
The Eclectic One:
And What? is the newest (and only) pan-London Queer Arts Festival on the block, featuring 130+ artists and more than 25 events in 15 venues throughout September and October. Covering the North, South, East and West of the Capital And What? brings you everything from Visual arts to Circus, International drag Superstars to LGBTQI film and Performance Art to Dance.
Expect edgy, scary, hilarious and some just plain wrongness (or you should demand your money back). That’s what a good fringe fest should be all about. I’m drawn to Return to Grey Gardens. I’m a sucker for RuPaul’s Drag Race star Jinkx Monsoon. Who doesn’t love a narcoleptic Jewish drag queen?
The Immersive One
Tennessee Williams’ plays speak to gay men in an inimitable way. Faded Southern Belles, repressed men and domineering matriarchs and all that passion and desperation? It certainly chimes chords with my past, present and future. Due to the constraints of his times, Tennessee’s plays didn’t feature openly gay men. This play features two and this version is semi-immersive (semi-immersive sounds good to me. It implies voyeurism with no interaction). The audience gets to spend the evening with a bunch of shameless lowlifes in a run down bar. It’s been re-imagined as taking place in a seaside bar in Essex. Sounds genius to me. William’s always gives good value and this one sounds utterly intriguing.
Catch it at The Southwark Playhouse from the 5th to the 29th of October.
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Chris is a theatre and book obsessed Midlander who escaped to London. He’s usually to be found slumped in a seat in a darkened auditorium.