Greenside @ Riddles Court – Clover Studio
Two extremely attractive young men dash onto a tiny stage. They’re kissing passionately, can’t keep their hands off each other, and within moments are stripped down to their undies and ready for business. Don’t you just love gay theatre?
“Whoa, there!” you may be thinking, “Aren’t you that Nathan Blue guy who’s forever complaining about gay theatre’s over-reliance on hot young actors taking their clothes off for the gratification of a cynically targeted audience?” Well, yes, reader, I am indeed that guy. The difference with this show is that sex is explicitly its subject, so the focus is absolutely appropriate.
That said, as soon as the dialogue starts, it’s clear that sex isn’t all that’s on the agenda. Over the course of this tightly paced and supremely intelligent show, it’s the wavering emotions and affections between this couple that are the real meat of the story. But there’s undeniably plenty of sex, and plenty of talking about sex. It’s even wondered aloud: “Are we having too much sex?”, which gets one of the show’s biggest laughs.
One of the characters is Scottish, recently out of a significant relationship and is in an “intentional slag” phase. His North American friend accepts the situation, seeming happy with a friends-with-benefits arrangement, and the play explores their changing relationship as they negotiate hook-up apps and possible future partners.
Writer/director Zachary Wilcox has created an exceptionally fine comedy-drama that takes us on a constantly evolving journey as the two men’s priorities shift and change. The development of the relationship feels absolutely authentic, providing a truthful examination of contemporary attitudes to sex, friendship, monogamy and the place of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and regular testing for STIs in modern gay lifestyles. Short scenes propel the play at an impressive speed: Wilcox provides us with just what we need to know in each scene before moving on.
Actors Chandler James and Conor Mainwaring are each brilliant as they convey the subtly altering relationship between their characters. The pair are utterly believable both in their physical trysts and the emotional journeys that they find themselves on.
A ‘set’ of 15 square cushions is constantly reconfigured to sometimes suggest furniture and at other times more abstract structures, such as a wall between the characters. It’s a stylistic flourish which embellishes the play without distracting the audience, and is a really deft bit of direction from Wilcox.
Everything comes together in this show to provide a gripping, funny and truthful portrait of modern gay relationships and the very specific factors that come into play with this demographic. It was the highlight of my Fringe, and if I had to endure the sight of gorgeous actors making out with abandon, well it was worth it in the end.
Written and directed by: Zachary Wilcox
Produced by: Who What Where Theater Collective
I just like you | a gay myth played as part of EdFringe 2022.