‘Delivers immense joy’: HOT GAY TIME MACHINE – Trafalgar Studios ★★★★

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Trafalgar Studios 2, London – until 5 January 2019

You enter a dark basement in the heart of the West End. RuPaul is blaring, lights are flashing and there is dancing. Yet this is not a club. Instead, it’s Hot Gay Time Machine.

What is that, exactly? It’s hot and gay and a time machine, so proclaim co-writers Toby Marlow and Zak Ghati-Torbati (the third member of this creative team is Lucy Moss). A not entirely helpful answer but one that does provide an indication of what’s to follow in the ensuing 75 minutes.

This show tells a version of the performers’ stories, specifically those incidents that bear relation to their identities – such as coming out to their mums, navigating school and finding a gay best friend. It’s a story about their friendship, packaged up in a musical ‘extravaGAYNza’ comedy cabaret.

They – the Hot Gays and Lucy – describe this show as a joke that’s gone too far. It was an idea that escalated into an actual commitment at their university and was produced on a £400 budget in a week.

We know that Marlow and Moss can write fantastically sharp songs. They are, after all, the creators of Six The Musical – the award-winning hit show – and something that the former pleasingly refers to on stage. With Ghati-Torbati added into the mix, the result is even sharper and, on occasion, close-to-the-bone humour. Its a trifecta of witty lyrics, pop music structures and strong vocal performances that delivers immense joy.

The beauty of a production like this is that it allows for performers’ personalities to shine through with a full beam, beyond what is intrinsically woven into the script and score. It’s the moments where they break character as a result of ad libs or improvisation that heighten the laughs. This fluidity works well in the Trafalgar’s bijou Studio 2, a veritable cockpit where no expression goes unseen.
Standout elements include songs such as ‘Couldn’t Get It Up’, Marlow’s pink hot pants and both performers’ flawless make-up looks. – and all of the sass. Marlow’s character is the more cutting of the two, while Ghati-Torbati’s is the sweeter foil.
A former Edinburgh hit, it’s now been transplanted to London’s West End, while firmly maintaining its Fringe feel. It’s a tricky challenge to address; how do you maintain a balance between raw creativity and a polished production? But this team manages to strike the right chord.
In a very fitting end, the show ends with a standing ovation, followed by a dance party and, finally, a sashay away.

Runs until 5th January 2019Reviewed by Bhakti GajjarPhoto credit: Pamela Raith

Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.
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Jonathan Baz on Twitter
Jonathan Baz
Theatre critic Jonathan Baz is London-based but with a coverage that extends far beyond the capital to include regional theatre as well as occasional forays into Europe and the USA. He enjoys reviewing new writing as much as seeing fresh interpretations of well-known plays and musicals. Jonathan also sits on the judging panel of London's Off West End Awards ("the Offies") and has published numerous interviews and features with leading figures in the film and theatre world. Away from the arts, Jonathan is a practising Chartered Accountant with a number of clients in the entertainment industries. He blogs at www.jonathanbaz.com and tweets at @MrJonathanBaz.