King’s Head Theatre, London – until 2 June 2018
I’m a massive advocate for LGBTQ+ theatre and the King’s Head Theatre is a fantastic platform for LGBTQ+ art. It is a venue that I wholeheartedly support. It produces exciting work – like Strangers In Between, which I previously reviewed – and is really a benchmark for pub theatres. The venue is currently home for the show F*cking Men, written by Tony Award-winning writer Joe DiPietro. The show follows a multitude of characters that are interwoven into multiple narratives, exploring monogamy, lust and cruising.
In recent times I’ve come across the quote of ‘Happiness writes white’, but in a play where there is no happiness, simply sex, the word I would use to describe F*cking Men is beige. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few redeeming qualities that I commend. One of the shows biggest pluses is its characters. In mainstream media there is an overwhelming amount of archetypal gay characters that only represent a small cross-section of the community; here there is a smorgasbord of characters covering much of the gay community. Another redeeming quality is the performance of the actors, they do the best they can with what they have been given.
Despite these redeeming qualities, there are too many negatives in this show that far outweigh the positives. As I was reflecting on the show after I’d seen it, I couldn’t decide whether it was brave or demoralising that the show was so full frontal with its exploration of the modern gay relationship and cruising culture. Ultimately, I concluded that it’s demoralising.
F*cking Men takes a metaphorical dump on one of the rights the LGBTQ+ community have fought for, monogamy.
DiPietro presents men of the gay community as lust driven, predatory creatures who can’t hold down a monogamous relationship.
It is repeated throughout the script that one of the bonuses of being gay is that we aren’t bound by monogamy. The show is also hampered by it’s painstakingly long transitions from scene to scene, and when we finally get to a scene, they are very vague and basic; the actors spend more time taking their clothes off than they do act. We were given no time to invest into characters, so when heartfelt moments happened, I felt nothing.
I simply don’t understand why most LGBTQ+ shows insist on including such vulgar nudity. I’m no prude but I don’t come to a theatre to stare at a chiselled man and his penis. I implore all who are writing LGBTQ+ theatre, raise your taste level, we will rise with you.
I urge you to go and support the King’s Head Theatre, it is an incredible venue with a very bright future, but do it in ways other than seeing F*cking Men. It’d be a waste of your time and money. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.