Back in the 90s, inspired by the likes of Tim Miller in the US and Neil Bartlett in the UK, I co-founded The Planet Martha Theatre Company with the actor Matthew Scott. He performed my scripts in one-man shows that addressed contemporary gay issues and represented queer sex and queer lives, inspired by the likes of Tim Miller in the US.
Watching Dan Ireland-Reeves in Bleach last night, gyrating in his briefs, provoked in me a vertiginous nostalgia, taking me back to those salad days when Matthew Scott would be similarly clad. Onstage nudity guarantees bums on seats. But once they’re there, what do you do? You tell a story, you keep their attention, you take them into that naked boy’s life and reveal the drama hidden there.
Ireland-Reeves (who also wrote the script) plays the part of rent-boy, Tyler Everett, with plenty of cheeky charm and sex appeal, as he unfolds the tale of why he’s found himself on the underground on a Sunday morning with a bag full of cash and blood-stained underpants. Tyler’s moved to the Big Smoke from a home town full of despair, where he’s constantly picked on for being gay and lives with an alcoholic mother.
In London, he finds his feet and his libido, enjoying all the sex and decadence the gay scene can provide. Pretty soon, he’s escorting and raking it in, dreaming of moving out of his tiny bedsit. Then, one drug-fuelled blurry Saturday night at the home of a client, he’s offered a brick of £50 notes to do something he’ll live to regret. There’s plenty of variety in the product and Ireland-Reeves’ energy never flags as the story shifts in location and time. The scenes on the tube seemed particularly poignant in this space (The Vaults) as trains rattled overhead. This was an engaging and entertaining hour.
Bleach is on in the Vaults Studio, Leake Street, Waterloo, as part of the Vault Festival, till Feb 10th.
Review by Jonathan Kemp
Queerguru London Correspondent Jonathan Kemp writes fiction and non-fiction and teaches creative writing at Middlesex University. He is the author of two novels – London Triptych (2010), which won the 2011 Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, and Ghosting (2015) – and the short-story collection Twentysix. (2011, all published by Myriad Editions). Non-fiction works include The Penetrated Male (2012) and Homotopia?: Gay Identity, Sameness and the Politics of Desire (2015, both Punctum Books).