by Steven Dietz.
Studio 2, Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY to 7 July 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Thu & Sat 3pm.
Runs 1 hr 40 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 871 7632.
Review: William Russell 14 June.
A powerful account of friendship in adversity
Written in the early 1990s about the same time as Angels in America and My Night with Reg, possibly the two finest plays about Aids, this play by Steven Dietz, which has transferred from the Tabard theatre in Chiswick, is getting its first West End staging. It is an impressive piece of work, funny, moving, never maudlin and avoiding all the predictable camp stereotypes which so often mess up gay plays. It is, in fact, up there beside the two just mentioned for its daring and its quality.
Jody (Alexander McMorran) runs a map shop in an American city. It is sometime in the 1980s when people started to worry about Aids and Jody is worried about something. He has a friend, a persistent visitor called Carl (Aaron Vodovoz), who seems to work for a local newspaper although it is never really clear just what he does. They are not lovers, just friends. Jody sums it up as Carl is the little brother he never wanted to have.
Jody is reluctant to leave the shop. Carl seems to keep turning up. They discuss maps, the distortions that map designers inflict on the reality of the world’s land masses, and just why Carl keeps bring more and more chairs to the shop and cluttering it up.
In time it all becomes clear – the chairs are rescued from the belongings of dead friends, a memory of people the world wants to pretend never existed whose memory he wants somehow to preserve. He also finally gets Jody to leave the shop and keep that appointment he dreads. Dietz has a way with words; McMorran and Vodovoz seize their chances beautifully whether sparking of one another or when alone addressing the audience directly. Add skilful direction from Ian Brown and a gloriously cluttered set by David Allen and the result is an evening to remember.
Jody: Alexander McMorran.
Carl: Aaron Vodovoz.
Director: Ian Brown.
Designer: David Allen.
Lighting Designer: Will Scarnell.
Sound Designer: Peter West.
Costume Designer: Nik Corrall.
Photo: Alexander McMorran as Jody the older man