Old Red Lion Theatre, London – until 30 March 2019
I was a big fan of Tom Ratcliffe’s VELVET at the VAULT Festival and so was intrigued to catch this production of his debut play Circa at the Old Red Lion Theatre. But where VELVET taps right into contemporary culture with its gay perspective on the #MeToo era, Circa feels curiously dated.
The play follows the amorous adventures of a gay man at different stages in his life, ostensibly tracking the way in which gay relationships have developed over the decades. It’s a nifty conceit but one which struggles to come to full fruition here, one man’s shags over 30 years not necessarily equating to the evolution of modern gay life.
In some ways, it isn’t surprising that Man’s (played variously by Thomas Flynn, Daniel Abelson and Antony Gabriel) shoulders can’t carry that burden. But what we do get feels like such an individual journey as we dip in and out of heady crushes, hook-ups gone awry and relationships gone stale feels fragmentary and ephemeral.
Ratcliffe has packed so much into his rather slight play that its hard to feel satisfied with any of its debates or consider the issues raised with any kind of depth. Creatively, Andrew Twyman’s production and Luke W Robson’s design do sterling work in bringing this world to life but it was hard not to feel disappointed, especially considering how good VELVET was.