Lakeside Theatre, Essex University
25 April 2017
WHAT might be the soundtrack to your life?
The song that most reminds you of growing up; of school; of getting your first job; and of course the one you love?
Mine is Fields and Kern’s ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ and whenever it comes on, wherever I am, it takes me right back to the time my wife and I danced on a Norfolk beach as it was chucking down with rain.
That’s pretty much the foundation of Paul T Davies’ new work, Play Something, an elegant, and gloriously whimsical, way of telling the story of two gay men, from the moment they meet, to the day they part, through the songs of their past.
The couple in question are M and F, perhaps a rather anonymous way to describe two people we are about to get to know in a very intimate way, but a construct for Davies to examine the different struggles these men experience to eventually find love.
While out and proud F is quick to fall head over heels, M first has his inner demons to conquer, serving up an intense claustrophobic study of life stuck inside the closet.
This first section of the play is much harder to connect with the audience because it’s essentially a relationship that’s just starting out and it’s one with problems. M isn’t exactly relationship material, so at first you can’t help wishing F would just ditch him for someone else. But as their relationship progresses the façade slowly comes down offering us a poignant chance to see M at his most vulnerable.
As the younger M and F, actors Jacko Pook and Ben Maytham pull at the heart strings with all their theatrical might, riding the emotional highs and lows with ease and beautifully setting the audience up for the second part of the play.
That’s older M and F, two more great performances from Matt Bradbury and Shane Whitworth.
They meet years later and with the spark still well and truly alight, they re-embark on what could have been. It’s unashamedly sentimental – imagine Richard Curtis doing a gay movie – but wonderful nonetheless thanks to Bradbury and Whitworth’s infectious charms.
This ‘remix’ of an earlier production has been revisited with the aim of taking it up to Edinburgh in the summer and having seen both, you can see just how beneficial the short break has been not only to the show but perhaps most importantly the actors as well.
It’s a slick, funny, emotional rollercoaster of a ride with some pretty cool tunes to match – and you can’t ask for much more than that in life.
Until 27 April. Photos: Ethan Noel Miller
Then at Greenside @ Nicholson Square (venue 209) 14 to 19 August