by Kevin Elyot.
Studio 2, Trafalgar Studious, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY to 2 February 2019.
Mon – Sat7.45pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 95 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7632
Review: William Russell 12 January
Fasten your seatbelts for tide is bumpy
Originally staged at the King’s Head last year? ago this production of Kevin Elyot’s first play now gets a West End season with three of the original cast still in it. First seen in 1982 the play is showing its years – that was another world – although it still has life. Nine years later Elyot was to write one of the best plays about gay men and the impact on their lives of the Aids virus – my night with Reg – and this early work does show the promise he fulfilled, but it has a static first act and what happens in act two is rushed. Not all the lines hit home any longer – there were quite a few missed laughs because the audience did not get them rather than the actors failing to deliver the gag – and the plot Elyot sets up is pretty rudimentary.
Would be writer Tony lives with academic Greg. Neither are house proud, although the state of their Kentish town flat really is excessively dirty – untidiness and not washing up is one thing, filth another. Greg earns the money, Tony writes – when the spirit moves – and both after five years together have reached that state in which they have a relationship that allows them to play away, but only from home.
Tony decides they need a cleaner – enter Robert, a young resting actor, who takes one look at Greg and decides this is the man for him. Tony, interested only in himself, although he does love Greg in his fashion, fails to spot the danger signs until, returning early from a weekend visiting family, he finds Tom and Greg in circumstances which have nothing to do with housework. The cuckoo is about to toss him out of the nest.
Does one care? Frankly no, but reprising their roles as Tony and Robert, the cuckoo in the nest, Lee Knight and Tom Lambert, are very good indeed, although both are little too toned for chaps living in 1982.Six packs weren’t around then. The latter also rises to the obligatory nude scene most impressively it has to be said.
Elliot Hadley as Tony’s best mate William, a raging queen of a type still around, almost steals the show with the necessary over the top performance, although it is never clear why he and Tony should be such chums Stanton Plummer-Cambridge, the newcomer to the cast, is good as Greg and, stuffy or not, looks well worth the effort of acquiring for one’s bed even if as a companion he would be tedious in the extreme, something the predatory Robert will find out.
The first act is pretty static, when the cuckoo pounces it comes as no surprise, and the clash between the despairing Tony and Gregg, in act two, while touching, doesn’t really move the heart.
Nor does the denouement convince although it allows Eliot Hadley a chance to display his versatility, if one can use the word in the circumstances. Robert, by the way, proves to be a lousy cleaner unable to even vacuum without bashing the furniture, and it is clear Gregg is going to carry on footing the bills.
Allocating stars is always a problem. The cast probably deserve four, as does Adam Spreadbury-Maher as director, but the play does not – so three it remains.
Director: Adam Spreadbury-Maher.
Designer: Amanda Mascarenhas.
Lighting Designer: Nic Farman.
Sound Designer: Yvonne Gilbert.