Writer: Jeff Moody & Simon Peek
Director: Nasser Memarzia
Reviewer: Sonny Waheed
The Public Reviews Rating:
Up4aMeet looks at the trials and tribulations of online gay dating through 3 men, their fag-hag and an indelicately titled website. Grant (Matt Evers) doesn’t have much luck in love can’t seem to find his place in gay society. His flatmate Costas (Benedict Garrett) is quite the opposite – a confirmed nudist who’ll sleep with any (and every) man that he comes across. Next-door, single but too-old-to-find-love Julian (Michael Blore) keeps himself going with a Shirley Bassey fixation. And flitting between this trio is sexually frustrated agent to D-list celbs and self confirmed fag-hag Caroline (Penelope Tasker).
The play starts with Caroline helping Grant take photos for him to set up a profile on a gay dating website. With the website at the heart of the play, we get to look at various aspects of the gay dating and sex scene through the various interactions of Grant, Costas and Julian. Caroline as friend, confidante and straight person provides an interesting sounding board and translator role; her, at times naïve, bemusement and questioning helps bridge the void between the gay and straight approaches to life.
The result is a sexual romp that works most of the time. It’s laden with clichés, but puts enough verve into them so they work pretty well; Blore is very good in his over-the-hill bitchy drag queen mode, as is Costas, who minces around naked totally confident in his body and sexuality. The few moments of seriousness though, where Costas or Gary talks to the audience in hushed tones and gives us some cod-psychology as to why they act the way they do, add little of value to the production as they rarely convince.
More generally too, the script could do with being a bit tighter and more focussed – there are scenes related to Costas and his parents and Grant and his ex-partner that are laboured and don’t add anything to the play and, in fact, slow down the comedic flow.
The cast, in the main, were all very good; Blore and Tasker were particularly delightful as Julian and Caroline. On press night, there were a few too many little slip-ups though and Evers didn’t seem too comfortable as Gary, betraying that this is the stage debut of this Dancing on Ice star, but hopefully both these will be rectified as the run progresses.
The marketing of this production is aimed firmly at the gay scene – and with good reason. But at the same time, there’s enough here to be entertaining to both straight and gay crowds. It must be said, that this play contains adult themes (mainly around gay sex) and a fair amount of full frontal nudity.