Review: Outbox – Snapshots, Arcola Theatre

“If we use my poster, the gays will come”

All-gay theatre company Outbox put together Snapshots, an evening telling the untold and forgotten stories of the LGBT community which, in a nutshell, sum up as the gays are obsessed with sex, lesbians overcommit and Tom Wells remains the best chronicler of small-town gay life. Bringing together new and experienced writers, actors and directors, 5 short plays were featured in this particular programme which sold out the main room of the Arcola on a chilly February Sunday night.

The main reason for booking was to see Tom Wells’ My Number 1 Favourite Lesbian. No one could ever manage Simon Stephens’ level of ubiquity but Wells is giving it a damn good try with three short plays appearing in London over the next month or so. This one was a monologue, excellently delivered by Tim Jackson, set on a New Year’s Eve gone awry where Mark reflects on a difficult few months after moving to London from his hometown has ended up full of disillusionment. Full of rueful humour and wry observation, a lovely thing indeed.

Expectations by Alexi Kaye Campbell matched it for immediate impact though, the most overtly comic of the pieces as Dan and Billy meet up after months of chatting online, only to find that neither of them has been entirely truthful about themselves. Bronagh Lagan’s direction fashioned a brilliant beginning from which Isaac Jones and James Robert-Moore bantered most amusingly, showing how the convenience of digital hook-ups doesn’t necessarily make the real thing any easier.

Frazer Flintham’s Don’t Cock It Up felt a little bit forced with its meta-theatrical examination of the task in hand, exploring the predilection of much gay theatre to be focused on sex and shirtless men though not really having the time to unpick the issue satisfactorily. Waiting for Yoko by Frog Stone had some funny conceits – the wittily named cocktails for one – and Yasmin Zadeh’s Off. brought a densely poetic approach, albeit one which probably needed a little more space and time to truly work.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)

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