#3 in the National Theatre’s Queer Theatre season of rehearsed readings
“Well join the radical wing of the movement where to be really queer you have, as it were, to nail your foreskin to the transgressive mast. Literally it seems, on occasion.”
I have to admit to not necessarily being the greatest fan of Peter Gill’s writing and seeing a reading of one of his plays after having partaken of a little of the Pride festivities on Saturday afternoon was definitely not one of my wiser moves. But I wanted the complete set of these readings and so I sat down for 2009’s Certain Young Men.
Following the lives of four gay couples and told predominantly in duologues, it had the slight sense of yet another version of La Ronde as established pairings disintegrate and new ones reform. It is more complex than that, as it seeks to present varied and various forms of gay personalities and relationships, resisting the easy definition of a gay community to present a heterogenous grouping of homosexual men with multiple and conflicting desires.
Whether it was the staging with its row of empty chairs, the theatrical word games that characterises one of the key couplings (Billy Howle and Lorne MacFadyen here) which needed more than it got here, or the gin I’d consumed, the play rarely gripped me in this form. I enjoyed Jonathan Bailey and Ben Batt’s relationship angst the most and Oliver Chris and Toby Wharton sold their own troubles well but whilst this was certainly the place to see it, it wasn’t the right time for me.
Photos: James Bellorini
Cast for the 1998 Almeida production directed by Peter Gill