Naked Boys Singing conceived by Robert Shrock at The Garden Theatre, the Eagle, Vauxhall. 5*****. William Russell.

Witty, performed with dash and style, and the tonic one needs these dismal days this off Broadway Revue was to have opened at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, in March but lock down ended that. It now surfaces south of the river just as things seem to be taking a turn for the worse, a little late in the year at the Garden Theatre, while there are heaters above the stage, is in the Eagle’s back garden. It could have been naked boys shivering. But it is nothing of the kind. They are hot.
The show opened in New York in 1999 and was still running when the pandemic there forced closure.
It opens here as it means to continue – the cast really are naked. That could have been a case of revealing all too soon. In striptease the clothes are always a long time coming off, if, indeed, all of them do come off. But here you see the six as nature intended from the start. But what saves the day is there is more to it than that. What follows is a revue about being naked, about love, lust, men in the gym, blokes in the showers, falling in love, and out of it, getting certain bits removed, making a career in porn, and being a cleaner who cleans with no clothes on, boys doing jobs they enjoy doing – and other things – no matter what people may think.
The 15 songs songs are tuneful, the lyrics – they are the work of a host of writers – sharp and to the point, and the fact that the six young players under Carole Todd’s direction have grasped what is required of revue artists – you play it straight, get the words across, and give every impression of enjoying what you are doing and at the same time invite the audience to share that enjoyment – is why it is so good. What could have been arch and smutty is funny and risque.
These days with pubs closing at 10pm what probably should be a late night after dinner romp has to open at 8.30pm. The next 70 minutes on press night were a joy and the nudity had nothing to do with it. Naked men on stage these days is commonplace stuff after all. It was the performances and the material that one enjoyed. The six boys are every bit as sexy and brazen as the Queens in Six and the show rivals that West End and world wide hit in the pleasure it gives. Picking out individual performers seems invidious as what follows is an ensemble piece in which each boy gets his chance to shine and seizes it. The athletic choreography devised by their director is stunning, and they can all sing.
Camp, but clever, it contains nothing that would cause Aunt Edna to blush, and deserves to run and run. It would be nice to think that twenty years hence there were naked boys, who do put some clothes on from time to time, singing still in a theatre somewhere in the West End.
The Boys
Liam Asplen; Nick Brittain; Daniel Ghezzi; Kane Hoad; Daniel Noah; Jensen Tudtud.

Carole Todd: Director and Choreographer.
Musical Director: Aaron Clingham.
Lighting: Richard Lambert.
Assistant Director: William Spencer.
Photograph: NatLPho

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