MY NIGHT WITH REG: by Kevin Elyot
Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, London WC2H 9LX to 27 September 2014
Mon – Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Runs 2hr No interval, To 27 09 14
TICKETS: 0844 871 7624
Review: William Russell 6 August
A night to remember.
Like all the very best plays My Night With Reg deals with specifics – in this case the impact of Aids on a group of homosexuals living in London in the 1990s – but it also applies to the human condition in general. It is a play about love, love betrayed, love unspoken, love for every optimistic and the gay aspect of it is, while essential in many ways, is only part of the emotions it arouses and what it has to say.
First staged in 1994 at the Royal Court, it transferred to the West End winning awards galore. This revival directed by Robert Hastie is strongly cast with Jonathan Broadbent, as Guy, the prissy and domesticated best friend to everyone, loved by none, providing a wonderfully touching focus for the events that take place.
We never see Reg, the rampant gay who has died of an Aids related illness, and whose life has touched everyone. Instead we meet his long time lover, Daniel, a gloriously camp Geoffrey Streatfield, the rich, idle and gorgeous, John, played to the hilt by Julian Ovenden, who had an affair with Reg, naïve young Eric, played by Lewis Reeves, a Brummie barman and house painter who keeps himself to himself, but had a romantic one night stand with Reg, and Benny and Bernie, played by Richard Cant and Matt Bardock, a dreary devoted couple but not as devoted as all that when Reg came to call. Guy, who has an unrequited lifelong passion for John, and next to no love life he is so scared of Aids, has invited them all to dinner.
We see three meetings over the years and the tone of the play, superbly camp and funny in the opening scenes, grows steadily darker. It is a practically flawless revival although the open Donmar stage does mean some long entrances and exits – this is a proscenium stage play – and there is a slightly irritating lack of furniture in Reg’s garden flat. One sofa is not enough.
It is an unmissable revival, except that the run is sold out. However, that will hopefully not be the end for this staging of Elyot’s humane and marvellous play.
John: Julian Ovenden
Guy: Jonathan Broadbent
Eric: Lewis Reeves
Daniel: Geoffrey Streatfield
Bernie: Richard Cant
Benny: Matt Bardock
Director: Robert Hastie
Designer: Peter Mackintosh
Lighting Designer: Paul Pyant
Sound Designer: Gregory Clarke
Voice and Dialiect Coach: Zabarjad Salam
Movement Director: Ben Wright