Camden Fringe Review: Jack Hoosie and the Leisure Groan, Water Rats

My first trip to the 2021 Camden Fringe is to the warmly funny and filthy Jack Hoosie and the Leisure Groan at the Water Rats

“Focus on the fetish nights”

My 2021 Camden Fringe debut visit comes with Jack Hoosie and the Leisure Groan at the Water Rats, a one-man-show by Gareth Edward based at as estimable a venue as the 3rd Most Hygenic Sauna in South Yorkshire (1997). As a gay sauna, the Leisure Groan offers its own set of niche services (and theme nights) but as the receptacle of Jack’s hopes and dreams, it proves to be something much more complex. 

Edward’s monologue is his first play and it is a little rough around the edges in some respects, needing a firmer directorial hand to bring in more light and shade to both his physical presence which can feel a little hesitant and his delivery which could usefully lean into comic peaks and troughs a little more.

Because there are some very funny jokes and reflections in here, almost too many packed in at times, rattled off with a wry matter-of-factism in Edward’s delightfully unassuming manner. At its best, it even recalls something of the iconic Victoria Wood in the observational details around the tragicomic tone, Jack’s relationship with partner Terry casting a shadow that we never quite dare chase.

Whether sorting through the shenanigans going on in the whirlpool or the relationship with the church next door, there’s a gorgeous exploration of how queer communities grow in support of each other and can also find a place in the wider community, even in Barnsley. A little tightening and bing, bong, bing, Jack Hoosie will be ready to cruise again. 

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Jack Hoosie and the Leisure Groan is booking at the Water Rats until 4th August, then plays Above the Stag 27th & 29th August

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