F*cking Men at The Kings Head Theatre (London)
Until 27th September 2015
One of several adaptations inspired by Schinitzler’s La Rhonde; Joe DiPietro’s F*cking Men premiered in 2008 and after a hugely successful run back then, has been re-energised by Geoffrey Hyland to return back to The King’s Head several years later.
The show has had its run extended by a couple of weeks due to success once again this time round, and I can definitely see why.
The 100 minutes, without interval, flew by with a slickness and pace in each of the ten scenes. There is a strong sense of ensemble within the cast, despite one of the original actors having to leave the extended run due to prior commitments, and a new actor- Anthony Wise- taking his place.
The piece scrutinises gay culture, voyeuristically examining ever changing pairs of lovers, often resulting in sexual acts, but particularly poignant when revealing the true despair and loneliness faced by the majority of the characters. In a piece which verges on being predominantly about Gay stereotypes, there is a beautiful honesty and truth from Haydn Whiteside as The Porn Star; the naivety and vulnerability he executes is played with class and subtlety and is hugely evocative.
The provocative title of the play F*cking Men, eludes to sex, farce, and crudeness, and the word F*ck is utilised wonderfully for comic effect throughout, however this piece is far more than just that.
As well as the play’s delicate and sensitive handling of the omnipresent threat of HIV, a particularly moving scene comes from the Married Couple, played by Richard De Lise and Jonathan McGarrity. De Lise’s post-coital immediacy back to the mundane domesticity of monogamy received a huge laugh at being hugely relatable, as well as heart-breaking. The idea of monogamy is examined and ultimately revealed as unsustainable, with a strong comment on gay culture- that ‘we’re gay, that’s not what we do’.
For the extension of the run, the production has had to be restaged somewhat to accommodate the newest show also playing alongside F*cking Men at The King’s Head. This could be the reason as to why some of the scene changes felt a little slow and awkward, and it was a pity to break from some particularly touching scenes into a handful of the actors floundering at moving about pieces of set. The classical music accompanying offered the potential to make these moments into more stylised movement perhaps? Or direction given to the company to take more command over what they were doing to prevent the otherwise strong actors, appearing apologetic.
As an important part of the history of LGBT theatre, it’s shame that this production which had the potential to be representative of so many unheard voices, was not more ethnically diverse. But overall, Hyland’s production is touching and powerful, and not to be missed- running till 27th September.
(C) Elle Dillon Reams 2015