“Come and be a real man”
I couldn’t possibly start recommending that one should drink before every show but nestled in the late timeslot (10.15pm start) at the Soho Theatre, it would be rude not to imbibe at least a little before going in to see Guilt & Shame’s Going Straight (although I would imagine it is just as much fun whilst stone-cold-sober, as long as you’re up for it). Somewhere between a play and a comedy sketch – on entrance, we get a blue or pink hairnet depending on gender – it’s a raucous, supremely silly but also relentlessly funny experience that would be well worth searching out if there were more performances scheduled (tomorrow is the last night).
Gabriel Bisset-Smith and Robert Cawsey play Gabe and Rob, a pair of friends who are struggling with their sexuality. Well, Rob’s sexuality, he’s a gay virgin and overly vocally heterosexual Gabe is determined to get him on the straight (and narrow) by indoctrinating him in a six step program he has developed called The Church of Clarksianity. The tasks Rob must fulfil are increasingly daft and incorporate a great deal of audience participation which is where the loosened inhibitions may well come in useful (though I don’t think tonight’s audience needed too much guidance in the glory hole-based dance routine!)
There’s such enthusiasm from the pair that it is impossible not to get swept up in it and the silliness is just infectious, the humour may not be the most sophisticated but my sides literally hurt by the end of the show from how much I’d laughed. The bouncing around from flashbacks to roleplay to the subconscious mind keeps up a frenetic pace and the show’s deeper subject matter of male sexuality in all its fluidity, the strangeness of acceptance and denial in the world of strongly-held religious beliefs and the realisation of true friendship all rings supremely true, even if it isn’t dealt with in the depth the sober version of me might have wished for.