Fridays aren’t serious reviewing nights and the friend who suggested this piece to me described it as “some shit for gays”, which despite our shared and enthusiastic homosexuality is the shorthand we use for frothy-to-filthy comedies of the sort often presented at venues in Vauxhall. But the King’s Head was on the way to a nice restaurant, so what the hell, and it’s a preview for the Edinburgh Fringe, which may save me the bother of two urticarious weeks in midge-ridden Scotland.
Mercifully, I Went To A Fabulous Party’s fringe slots are 22.40 and midnight, because if you weren’t already tanked up on 80 Shilling and in a pretty good mood, this evanescent piece of gay banter and gratuitous nudity could prove a longish hour.
The sextet of longstanding friends – including the dullard, the sex-god, the gym-rat, the nerd and the all-purpose chubby/older/hairy/plainer character providing gay tokenism with maximum economy – who collectively perv over newcomer Josh could put you in mind of My Night With Reg, except there’s no actual plot and the end of the evening is as banal as the beginning. Although you’ve seen some pert but pustular buttocks and glimpsed some pretty uninspiring genitalia including one like a shy mole trying unsuccessfully to escape from a forest.
And Davies certainly has the gift for accurately scripting gay banter: the succession of show tune titles which interlace the dialogue of party co-host Lee are elegantly placed and make you wonder why on earth director Dan Phillips would cast German-raised actor Mark Ota in the role, since his un-English inflections ruin the rhythm of some really good lines.
It sounds like Angela Merkel playing Amanda in Private Lives, which, if they could get Alex Tsipiras to do Elyot could make for a far more zeitgeisty and entertaining evening.
There are some good performances, and brave ones given there’s nowhere to hide in such an intimate space: Carlton Venn is excellent as the shy ingenu Josh who turns out to have bigger balls and more self-worth than preening braggarts like gym bunny Paul (Ahd Tamimi) or arrogant but likeable Geordie Darran (Luke Kelly).
The piece could have a point to make about body image and self-awareness but it’s so buried under the flood of camp banter, and occasional epileptic fits of slow-motion half-lit disco writhing, that its purpose is lost. Which is a pity, because a writer with this ability for dialogue – which is sharper than Mark Ravenhill‘s lacklustre scripts for Vicious on Channel 4 – should find a better-structured peg on which to hang it.
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