Old Red Lion
Has the LGBTQ community reached a crisis point? Has the hard won promise of endless sexual freedom begun to conflict with a desire to settle down and lead heteronormative lives?
This revival of the 2016 play Circa approaches this dilemma in a deliciously complex way. A cast of five slip in and out of various characters over a 30 year period whilst principally focussing on the love life of ‘The Man’ played by Thomas Flynn, Antony Gabriel and Daniel Abelson in various life stages.
There are the inevitable Grindr hook ups, chance meeting in clubs, and the opening scene includes a highly transactional experience with a rent boy which ends in a most uncomfortable scene of frantic, desperate masturbation by the client (played with a terrifying arrogance and superciliousness by Antony Gabriel). When discussing the possibilities now open to gay couples such as marriage and having children (and a dog!) one boyfriend asks ‘The Man’ “Why are you trying to make us straight?”
Some aspects of the plot (written by Tom Ratcliffe) might push the boundaries of credulity including the scene where ‘The Man’ is practicing for a newly discovered heterosexuality by visiting a male drag queen prostitute who will dress the same as his cis female fiancée. Who are we to judge as to how efficacious ‘The Man’ will find this experience… the delightful Thomas Flynn keeps the show on the road with an extraordinary transformation into ‘Ms. Plastic’ and her sassy humour and plain speaking keeps it real.
There must be a special mention for the lighting and set design which are both done by Luke W. Robson – the stunning geometric set in concrete accentuated with architectural lighting, working perfectly in unison to provide a distinct sense of place with variety and contrast of mood for every single scene whether it’s a hotel room, beach or bar.
Where Circa excels is by subtle repetition of characters, and even more subtle introduction of new ones in a similar situation means you approach the issues from multiple angles throughout the play. Its complex and admittedly Queerguru lost the plot on occasion but allowing the whole to wash over you lets you focus on the particular issue in the moment for each character and its fascinating and challenging in equal measure.
REVIEW: JONNY WARD