Pros: A hilarious romp through the love lives of three gay New Yorkers, played with real compassion.
Cons: Nothing glaring, an all-round excellent production.
Terry and Buck are sitting on a sofa in an apartment in 1990s Staten Island, threading popcorn onto strings to decorate their Christmas tree. Terry – camp, vivacious, wearing only a singlet, Incredible Hulk underpants and a pair of reindeer horns – is an out-of-work actor working a dead-end job in a diner. Played with tireless energy by Lucas Livesey, Terry fancies the handsome, conventional Buck (Robbie Capaldi).
But Buck is in love with Terry’s roommate Alex (Nick Brittain), whose job involves dressing up as Santa in the grotto at the local mall. Alex, however, is still in love with his partner of four years, Sam (Natasha Edwards), a singer away on tour. Add to this mix the older, streetwise Roger (Fanos Xenofos), Terry’s one night stand who also fancies Buck, and the scene is set for a raucous farce.
In the hands of writer Buddy Thomas, though, what we get is not farce but a thoughtful, compassionate and touching comedy. It’s a story of love, with all its complications, and the fact that it centres on three gay men produces an additional interwoven complexity to the relationship possibilities. In its original production in both New York and London two years ago, the character of Sam, Alex’s absent girlfriend, was instead another gay man; the fact that she’s now a woman makes surprisingly little difference, but does add a subtle twist to Alex’s confusion. The play has also been slimmed down from two acts to one, which ups the pace and produces a tighter result.
“Love… it’s just a word and everyone says it,” Alex muses. “I don’t know what that word means.” And this is the crux of it: the difference between love and lust, and whether love has to be exclusive. Sam believes it does: “How do you love two people at the same time? No one has that much love to go around.”
The Crumple Zone is a funny, outrageous and deeply moving comedy of manners, deftly directed by Robert McWhir in the small space of the King’s Head, and faultlessly performed by an outstanding cast. The play is dominated by Lucas Livesey’s towering performance as the extrovert Terry, whose effervescent, caustic wit keeps the audience laughing throughout.
Author: Buddy Thomas
Director: Robert McWhir
Producer: LAMBCO Productions
Booking Until: 9 December 2018
Box Office: 0207 226 8561
Booking Link: https://system.spektrix.com/kingsheadtheatre/website/eventdetails.aspx?WebEventId=thecrumplezone