5 Guys Chillin’ is a verbatim drama adapted from over 50 hours of anonymous interviews about the world of chem-sex on the gay scene. ★★

The script is moving and powerful, largely because it’s based on the truth. This being said, I’m not entirely convinced that it works that well as a play.The play, or verbatim drama as it’s called in the program, is centred on 5 guys chilling. Duh. The characters are a combination of guests and hosts of a “chill” which as a 33 year old gay man living in London I can’t believe I didn’t realise that was actually a thing. They have sex, they take drugs and they talk about their past experiences having sex and taking drugs. There are a couple of Mancunians, a Pakistani, a Glaswegian and a painfully unrealistic American that share stories of when they first took drugs, went to a chill and caught various sexually transmitted diseases.

In such an intimate environment in which butt cracks and ball sacks are dangerous close to your pint, it takes a strong actor to keep the audience engaged and the pace of the performance up. Thankfully, actor Elliot Hadley who played one of the Manchurians, was very strong; his natural charm and charisma keeping the performance moving forward where it may have fallen flat.

I’m sorry to say that the piece as a whole did not resonate with me, which may be due to my complete naivety of the whole drugs scene. Thank god there was a glossary in the program otherwise I would have had no idea who the hell Tina was. (it’s crystal meth by the way. Chrystal, christina, tina. Now I get it)

The characters weren’t relatable and were a little too stereotypical for my tastes. Combined with the sweltering heat of the small performance space and the communal sweat of both performers and fellow patrons, it made for a rather uncomfortable evening.

If you have a past with drugs and ‘chilling’ scene, then you’ll likely find this piece powerful. If you don’t you’ll likely just find it shocking and may enjoy watching a documentary more.

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5 Guys Chillin is playing at the King’s Head Theatre until the 24th October at 9:30pm Tuesday – Saturday (3pm and 7pm Sunday)

by Nick Baker | @geekwithoutchic

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