Boyz Magazine 1300 - Page 36

Theatre Men and memories by Jack Cline The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor The Old Red Lion Theatre, runs until 27 August ***** W ith a dreamy approach, this offbeat autobiographical play by Jeffrey Mayhew explores themes of history, class, age and ambition from a variety of angles. It’s more intriguing than involving, but makes some punchy observations. The story centres on Joshua (Jojo Macari), a posh young guy with a hot builder boyfriend, Damian (Denholm Spurr). Orphaned and separated from most of his relatives, Joshua gets in contact with his reclusive great-uncle Napier (Bernard O’Sullivan), who is living out his retirement on a chaise longue in the family’s country pile. Joshua loves listening to stories of Napier’s exploits with famous figures from Siegfried Sassoon to Francis Bacon. But the house is also haunted by the ghost of the much younger, free-spirited Napier (Nick Finegan), who flirts shamelessly with Joshua. Director Simon Blow uses the theatre’s small space inventively as the story unfolds in a series of short, sharp scenes that revolve mainly around brainy dialogue. But there are flashes of physicality here and there as these gay men give in to their urges. The title refers to Napier’s youthful activity of sketching and shagging French sailors. The cast is solid, slightly overplaying the characters to create a heightened reality. As the three younger men, Macari, Spurr and Finegan create likeable, complex characters who also happen to be rather easy on the eyes. While the scene-stealer is Paul Foulds as Napier’s sardonic, tetchy butler. What grabs the attention here are the colliding feelings. The young Napier simply can’t comprehend the older man he will become, and vice versa. This of course leaves Joshua with some big questions about his own future, partly due to tension between him and Damian. Basically, their relationship needs to progress from hot sex to something deeper. Which of course is not as easy as we think it should be. The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor runs until 27 August at Old Red Lion Theatre, 418 St John Street, EC1V 4NJ (oldredliontheatre.co.uk). “Do you have a Secret Crush”? (Sleeping with Straight Men) The Lost Theatre, runs until 21 August ***** Ronnie Larson’s very good play is currently being revived at the Lost Theatre and receives from Boyz a well deserved five stars. Why? Because this is a superb effort by one of the best ensemble casts I’ve seen in ages, who act out a believable story based on fact. Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 is played as the cast take up their positions and the song acts as a wonderful way to get the message across that people live different lives. Director Robert McWhir has got out of his cast fantastic performances, notably from Dave Lynn as drag performer Sally and the very talented Louie Westwood as Brian – a true scene stealer and a marvellous talent. There is a clever use of song in this production as Stanley, played by a very watchable Chris Britton, dreams of escaping the humdrum and going to California as Bros’ When Will I Be Famous? is pumped out over the theatre’s sound system. The fast pace of this play makes for extremely enjoyable theatre. The rest of the cast are truly immersed in their respective roles and Ruth Petersen, as the chat show host Jill Johnson, relishes the delivery of her lines and deserves a special mention. The sarcasm and wit of this play is right on the money. I only offer one criticism: the portrayal of these stereotypes in such