THE BOYS UPSTAIRS
by Jason Mitchell.
Above The Stag Theatre Arch 17 Miles Street SW8 1RZ to 15 February 2014.
Tue–Sat 7.30pm Sun 6pm.
Runs 2hr 15min One interval.
Review: William Russell 16 January.
Happily carrying-on camping.
This funny, fast-moving farce about three gay New Yorkers making-out, trying to make good and generally getting on with life is interesting in that the shadow of Aids no longer hangs over events.
The trio drink a lot, sleep around as often as they can, but nobody seems to worry about the consequences. Jason Mitchell has written some hilarious scenes and director Andrew Beckett has assembled a good cast, although they sometimes kill a joke by moving-on too quickly. Farce needs speed, but it also needs timing. Maybe the audience anticipated things too much, but some good jokes did not quite secure the impact they deserved.
Josh (Simon Walton, in sparkling form), a Jewish computer nerd with a very sharp tongue and a trust fund, shares his flat with Seth (Stanley Eldridge), a red-bearded, boot-wearing “bloke.” They are visited by Ashley (Joe Leather camping it up madly), a former high school chum, a high camp diva with a horror of sleeping alone, for their annual boys’ night out – and things follow from there.
To complicate matters Eric (Daniel Garcia, deservedly the apple of everyone’s eye), an apparently straight man, has moved-in to the flat below, and Josh has a very boring boyfriend, Matt (Hugh O’Donnell) he is getting matrimonial about.
Lots of cocktails are consumed, there is a running gag about the men who end up in the sofa couch with Ashley, all of them bar one played by O’Donnell in a dazzling display of virtuosity. No prizes in guessing who is the odd man in, so to speak.
The best of the companions for a night turns out to be Gabie, an unnatural blonde working in the musical theatre, who speaks entirely in lines from show songs. It all ends more or less happily, is as light as a feather and although occasionally the jokes are a mite obvious and a touch too blue, by and large it is a funny, smart, fast-paced well-directed, handsomely-staged play which, judging by the audience reception, may be about New Yorkers but is also quite like the lives of our own dear queens.
Josh: Simon Walton.
Seth: Stanley Eldridge.
Ashley: Joe Leather.
Eric: Daniel Garcia.
Matt/G.I. Harder/Bill/Gabie/Brad: Hugh O’Donnell.
Director: Andrew Beckett.
Designer: Zoe Hirwitz.
Lighting: Jack Weir.
Sound: Jason Kirk.