What a Gay Play

Wed 30th July – Sun 24th August 2014


Xavier Greenwood

at 03:28 on 3rd Aug 2014



‘What a Gay Play’ promised an honest and intimate evening. But a script almost entirely consisting of innuendo after innuendo and no clear final message resulted in a show with few, if any, redeeming features.

Performed by seven men, the show had the potential to challenge homosexual stereotyping. In fact it did the opposite and appeared to reinforce the typecasting which remains a problem in society. Even the characters who on first glance resisted being pigeon-holed were eventually forced into submission by the errant script. Whilst the play’s aim was to celebrate homosexuality, it went about doing so in an emotionally vapid manner.

The actors appeared capable, with Chris (Alan McLaren) and Josh (Jamie Howard) in particular showing glimpses of the talent they clearly have, but they were given barely a chance to showcase their acting ability. No matter how perfectly they might deliver a line based around a sexual innuendo, the humour in the joke was entirely compromised by the time it was repeated, albeit in a slightly different guise, for the 50th time.

Though there is no inherent problem with the use of innuendos as a means of evoking humour, there was little script outside it – the largely inebriated audience entered the play with eager readiness for an hour of laughs, but were stunned into sobriety by the utter lack of any direction in the performance, which no amount of audience participation (entirely consisting in seemingly meaningless gimmicks which included asking which members of the audience had the Grindr app, and ‘Spot the Show Tune’) could salvage.

This is a real shame because at its very roots the play could have had so much to offer if it at least had a clear message. There was a moment during which Matt (Chris Barlow) questioned the idea of defining a homosexual – which proved at least that there was self-consciousness on the part of the actors as to the problems of stereotyping. There was also an accompanying sub-plot of Josh’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality, and his identity. Neither of these issues, however, were touched upon in any depth, despite the fact that this seemed to be the initial intention in the play’s synopsis.

Whilst the expectation, and indeed hope, was for a convincing portrayal of homosexuality which challenged societal categorization of sexuality types, the end result lacked any emotional depth. Perhaps worst of all for a comedy, the show was relentlessly unfunny.


Lili Thomas

at 03:55 on 3rd Aug 2014



As I wandered into What a Gay Play without a drink in my hand I immediately sussed I had a problem. By the time the doors were ominously closing I had the sinking feeling that I really had not prepared fully for my upcoming evening. Matt (Chris Barlow) began the show in a small housewife’s apron and a few tunes from his laptop, stopping them short with comic timing. The audience was a titillating bunch and under Barlow’s instruction I was pretty proud of the ‘Tops’ winning cry of ‘Cocks’ over the other half of the audience’s shout of ‘Dicks’.

Then the houselights came down, and the atmosphere droopingly followed. Matt and Lee (Adam Mroz) were hosting a get together for their friends and with each new entrance came a new caricatured gay persona. We had the ‘slut’, the ‘romantic’, the Scottish geek, the gym guy and the ‘twink’ piled onto one sofa. Not my labeling.

Whilst the relationships between the different men were easy to follow and jealousy, bickering and lust ensued. The style of the play was bewilderingly confused. Matt occasionally broke out of the flat’s reality to give the audience a cheeky side note: this generally fell flat and made me painfully aware that houselights going up may well have resulted in some kind of participation. Josh’s (Jamie Howard) arrival as a young student created a hyena-like mauling and fawning from the others with impressively bold licking, stroking and undressing from Darren (Gregory Champkin).

Serious notes of attempted profundity lay heavily between flaunting, gaping and a constant stream of sexual puns which failed to deliver. Matt’s reasonable outburst that relationships are about more than sex was flanked by outrageous erotica and a webcam session which continued happily to one side of the main action.

The company were undeniably having fun, and the movement routines which broke up the dialogue were stylised into refreshingly sexy displays of flexible, toned bodies. Yet with a confused teenager, drunk men and a sensitive romantic on the stage I couldn’t help but feel ever so slightly like a worried mother. There were certain moments which caught the audience’s sense of humour, Chris’s (Alan McLaren) Scottish composure contrasted well with Josh’s gawking at Paul’s (Ian Hencher) resemblance to Magic Mike. Whilst I got the feeling I may not exactly be the target audience, the obstruction of the final striptease by the front row’s neatly aligned heads seemed to fittingly conclude a show which screamed for a more riotous reaction.


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