★★★★★ | My Night With Reg
Kevin Elyot’s witty, warm and poignant 1994 play introduces six gay men in 1980s London over the course of three meetings. Shy and nervous Guy is hosting a flat warming and, as he prepares for the evening, John; the flashily handsome man he has spent over fifteen years nursing a crush on, arrives early.
Bickering couple Bernie (a finicky bore) plus his testosterone fuelled bus driver partner Benny and joyously flamboyant Daniel make up the group of friends. Naïve young Birmingham painter and decorator Eric sits on the peripheries.
Binding the men is Daniel’s lover, Reg, a mysterious and never seen figure who is never seen on stage but who the men have a surprising amount in common with, namely their night or nights with him. The script is hilarious, tightly written and very ably performed by this superb cast. The themes are writ large but always subtly played. The spectre of AIDS is a constant presence yet is never named explicitly. Unrequited love, betrayal, anxiety and loneliness are all heavily featured yet in such a way that they aren’t oppressive or laboured. It’s a testament to the late Elyot’s writing that this play is so tightly scripted and at 1 hour 50 minutes with no intervals, passes in a whir, never dragging.
The cast are excellent and the characters are portrayed as well rounded and three-dimensional which is quite some feat in a play that has such comedic power also. There isn’t a weak link in the cast and special mention has to go to the very handsome Julian Ovenden’s prolonged moment of nudity (I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an image that has stuck in my mind).
Sadly, Elyot died before he could see this magnificent revival of a play that deserves not to be forgotten. Tickets are selling out very quickly so clamour online, queue for day returns, beg and scramble for one. This is a performance not to be missed.
My Night With Reg runs until 27th of September 2014 at the Donmar Warehouse, London.
Tickets available here