Based on Schnitzler’s La Ronde, Joe DiPietro’s F**king Men is a provocative, sensual, and gay take on the classic. Ten characters each feature in two scenes in no particular order. They are all in varying professions, relationship status, and levels of comfort in their sexuality, but the show’s overarching themes are sex and love.
Written 15 years ago, before the invention of apps such as Grindr, DiPietro explores how these characters interact, focusing on topics such as casual sex, sex work, monogamy, and internalised homophobia. Director Steve Kunis has helped to re-develop and modernise this play with the ever- changing times and technology that have only revolutionised anonymous sex, just as the development of HIV prevention alongside more medical understanding has assisted in normalising conversations surrounding HIV. It is a common pitfall that modernised adaptations of works become oversaturated with popular buzzwords or ideals, however this play expresses a naturalistic development of attitude and languages. Particularly impressive is the exploration of contrasting opinions between different individuals and generations
F**king Men explores the good and bad sides of being able to engage in such casual, and often
anonymous, sex. There is an ongoing tension between the freedom of existing outside of
stereotypical gender roles and a longing for the normality of a traditional monogamous relationship
dynamic. Each character shows a slightly different side in each story, carrying through their new
ideas and personal development upon meeting new exploits.
It is refreshing to see that DiPietro has not shied away from taboo topics. The language is crass, raw,
and real, just as people would talk to each other in everyday conversation. Some characters
experience confusion and are unable to eloquently express themselves; others have had years of
needing to describe who they are, spitting their practised explanations with ease. Similarly, the
writer has not held back from portraying sex scenes. Artistically executed, some scenes are beautiful
and loving, others rushed, passionate, and messy. The varying displays of physical intimacy add a
depth of understanding to these complex characters. This totally unapologetic approach is a breath
of fresh air, rendering the production distinctive and memorable.
Di Pietro deserves high praise for his willingness to produce a work that evolves with the times. This
is executed skillfully alongside equally talented actors who are able to totally transform themselves
with accent switches and changes in body language. F**king Men is a funny, emotional, and sexy
play that is thoroughly entertaining throughout.
Writer: Joe Di Pietro
Director: Steve Kunis
Set and Costume designer: Cara Evans
Lighting designer: Alex Lewer
Sound Designer: Charlie Smith
Production Manager: Carrie Croft
Movement & Intimacy Director: Lee Crowley
Casting Director: Anne Vosser
Voice and Dialect Coach: Amanda Stephens-Lee
F**king Men plays at Waterloo East Theatre until 18 June. Further information and bookings can be found here. F**king Men also ran as part of The Takeover: A Queer Interrogation Season which continues at The
Kings Head until 14 May, details here.