No Sweat ☆☆☆☆
Pleasance Theatre, London
With homelessness on the rise in the UK, and 24% of young homeless people identifying as LGBTQ+, Vicky Moran’s important new play is very timely, and very good. Using verbatim interview clips and based on real stories from the playwright’s interviews with homeless queer youth, it uncovers the hidden world of young men using saunas and dating apps to find somewhere to lay their head for the night.
It’s set in a gay sauna, FLEX, and the audience are stamped on the way in, which is a cute detail. The temperature certainly rises as we watch Alf (James Haymer) and Tristan (Denholm Spurr) strip off and don white towels.
Alf is slightly older, and more experienced in the ways of the gay world, offering drugs (ghb) to buff blonde newcomer, Tristan, whose parents back in Surrey have disowned him for being gay. Alf, too, was thrown out by his parents at the age of 16 when he told them he was gay, and made his way from Wales to London.
Charlie (Manish Gandhi), the Pakistani cleaner/masseur at Flex, is a refugee, illegally working and in fear of being sent back because he believes his father and/or the Taliban will kill him. The set is inventive, giving the sense of place very well and there’s good use of music and movement throughout.
The three actors give strong performances and the stories presented here are moving without ever feeling worthy or overburdened by the ‘issues’ addressed. These hidden lives and heartbreaking stories are happening all around us unseen, and this production gives them a crucial voice and spotlight. Try not to miss it.
Writer/ Director – Vicky Moran
Until Feb 29th 2020
Review by Jonathan Kemp
Queerguru London Contributing Editor 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).