Summerhall (Demonstration Room)
Welcomed into the auditorium by a techno minimal score, I already know I’m in for a treat. Yet when the lights go down, it still takes me some minutes to get into the play. Maybe it’s the language barrier – English not being my first language, especially when the characters have such strong Scottish accents. Maybe it’s also that the live set by DJ Simonotron (Hot Mess/ Simon Eilbeck) is too cool. All I want to do is to get down on stage and join the party. Even the middle-aged women sat each side of me can’t stop shaking their heads to the rhythm of the music.
As the narration begins, Scottish Government lawyer Gordon (Brian Evans) is at a random chemsex house party where Manpussy (Marc MacKinnon) and his husband Cumpig (Sean Connor) are having a wild night. He’s still in his office clothes from his day job, getting Scotland back into the EU, when he gets initiated to drugs, hardcore group sex and a brand-new version of himself.
What follows is the most unabridged, drug-fuelled, STI-riddled coming of age tale! It transports them from the shores of Leith to the streets of Berlin, into the most popular gay sex party in Europe. No detail is spared in the whirlwind account of the three adventurers. The language is uncouth yet sounds very technical. Fortunately, at the door we’ve been handed a “Glossary of Gay”, with a collection of words that would make my editor turn pale. In the corner, DJ Simonotron keeps producing a spirited tempo and the time flies past. The delivery is on point, whilst we sink deep into the memories of their fast-and-furious night.
Gordon’s journey of personal discovery might not be for the faint-hearted but is very relatable and manages to brim with tenderness. Regardless of whether one may be offended by the uncensored nature of this play, writer and director James Ley crafts a credible cross section of real-life experience and his honesty should be appreciated.
Written and Directed by: James Ley
Soundscape by: DJ Simonotron (Hot Mess)
Produced by: Robyn Jancovich-Brown & Kitsten McEwan at Stories Untold Productions
Ode to Joy plays at Summerhall until 28 August 2022. Shows are daily at 6.30pm. Further information and bookings here.