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My Night With Reg

My Night With Reg

Top image: Edward M Corrie (John), Paul Keating (Guy) & James Bradwell (Eric). Photo: Mark Senior

My first trip to the new-ish Turbine Theatre – under the South London railway arches and in the shadow of the old Battersea Power Station – was indeed a happy one tonight. It was my second viewing of Kevin Elyot’s comedy, My Night With Reg (the first was performed by West Norwood’s South London Theatre in 2005 – wow, sixteen years ago!) and all credit for Turbine Theatre’s artistic director, Paul Taylor-Mills, for choosing this masterpiece for Matt Ryan to smoothly direct.

PTM is a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ sector and this production fits the bill perfectly, I mean you can’t get much more gay than a cast of six characters – all of whom are gay! The subject matter is so naturalistically written though one (if not gay) acclimatises to the status quo very quickly indeed.

The plot surrounds Reg, whom we never meet and every scene takes place in Guy’s flat – a chic 80s abode. The speedy first act is only thirty-five minutes long compared to and hour and ten minutes after the break. The play opens with Guy (Paul Keating) about to host a house-warming party. We meet his life-long secret love, John (Edward M Corrie) of whom Guy is secretly besotted and Reg’s long-term partner, Daniel (Gerard McCarthy)… Reg is also coming but obviously a little too late to make an appearance. Eric (James Bradwell) is just finishing up decorating Guy’s new home as the party kicks off – much to Daniel’s lusty approval. However, it appears that at this early point we Eric hasn’t made his mind up which way he wants to swing!

The comedy is set in the 1980s as AIDS was rearing its ugly yet mysterious head and, post-interval, Reg has succumbed to the disease and Guy is hosting a kind of wake/get-together. It is here that we meet the final two characters: arguing couple, Bernie (Alan Turkington) and Bennie (stand-up comedian, Stephen K. Amos). However, the play later morphs into a third scene, some time later, when Guy has also passed away from AIDS (presumably) and he has left his entire flat to John – who is now sleeping with young Eric.

The short story is that Reg, when he was alive, had trouble in the monogamy department. In fact he was downright promiscuous… and had slept with… John, Bernie AND Bennie (as well as his partner, Daniel, of course). In the play Guy is the somewhat unwilling target for sharing this news and his repeatedly shocked and stunned face every single time he is told of another exploit is a joy to behold.

I can’t tell you if the entire cast is also gay but, if not, they do a damn good job of acting it. I know from his stand-up routine that Stephen K. Amos IS gay and I think Gerard McCarthy’s Daniel probably shares top honours with Paul Keating for the most naturalistic acting of the six… and McCarthy winning the campest performace of the night – hands down!

I do like they way that Matt Ryan’a direction has let the writing find its own natural comedic level rather than play for as many laughs as possible. This is an award-winning and brilliant play, so it’s lovely to see it given the respect that it deserves by director and cast alike.

The only gripe I must mention is that nobody’s hairstyle looked very 1980s and in the latter nude scene, which is a brave move for any actor to play, both John and Eric are both completely shaven – down below – which is also very modern and not at all of the era. That’s the only reason a fifth star is absent, which is a shame really as Lee Newby’s design and Will Burton’s casting are spot on!

Apart from that, bravo, and it was lovely to be back in the theatre without restrictions in place.

  • : admin
  • : 28/07/2021
Heathers the Musical

Heathers the Musical

[L-R: Jodie Steele (Heather Chandler), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Veronica Sawyer), T’Shan Williams (Heather Duke) and Sophie Isaacs (Heather McNamara). Photo: Pamela Raith Photography]

The rise of Heathers the Musical has almost taken the West End by storm, although nearly all those lucky enough to witness the show’s opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket this week already appear to be well and truly versed in the cult hit’s journey from big screen to stage. A myriad of audience members have taken the opportunity to dress themselves in Westerburg High School paraphernalia as the Rocky Horror-style party atmosphere kicked off in true style.

The 2014 off-Broadway musical – adapted from the 1989 cult movie – came over for a short workshop run at The Other Palace in 2017 before a virtually new cast brought the show back to life at the same venue for a couple of months over the summer of this year. The new cast’s full and deserved West End opening this week shows just how strong the appeal is for Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s dark musical comedy.

With murder and teenage suicide high on the menu, it is probably the balance of some fine numbers with plenty of well-played comedic moments that enable the storyline to survive. That is mainly down to Andy Fickman’s experience direction and a cast who know exactly what they’re doing.

Leading the bunch, Carrie Hope Fletcher has come a long way since appearing as Jemima in the London Palladium’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all those years ago. Full justifying her casting, she actually demonstrates a fine ability in comic timing as she brings Veronica Sawyer – the teenager who decides to buddy up to the school bitches – to life.

Weighing up her options, Veronica’s move to impress the three Heathers is worth throwing her moral compass – and best friend – out the window. The vacuous trio, led by the evil Heather Chandler (Jodie Steele), are only surpassed in their stupidity by school jocks, Ram (Dominic Anderson) and Kurt (Christopher Chung) – a highly buffed but monumentally thick pair of hunks.

When Veronica meets and falls for the mysterious new boy, Jason ‘J.D.’ Dean (Jason Muscato), the disturbed teenager subtly leads our heroine down a path of murder – knocking off Veronica’s classmates one by one.

Despite the gory story, Fickman has crafted a great deal of tongue-in-cheek comedy to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes and, backed up with MD Simona Budd’s loud and tight 6-piece band and some catchy tunes from Murphy and O’Keefe, manages to get away with bringing this cult tale into the West End.

Stand-out support comes right across the cast, including the extremely appealing Rebecca Lock who doubles as Veronica’s ‘Mom’ and the hippy-swinging Ms Fleming – her big act two number, Shine a Light, brings the house down!

The audiences are certainly loving the stylish humour and packing the Haymarket out until the run ends on 24th November, so what’s not to like. It’s multi-coloured, it’s croquet-mallet-friendly, it’s murderous… and very funny.

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[Carrie Hope Fletcher (Veronica Sawyer) and the cast of Heathers The Musical. Photo: Pamela Raith Photography]

  • : admin
  • : 10/09/2018