CERTAIN YOUNG MEN    TWO STARS

THEATRE

theSPACE @ VENUE 45    (V45)    20.50

AUGUST 21ST TO 26TH

This is a revival of a play first performed at the Almeida Theatre in London in 1999. It was written by Peter Gill. This revival is presented by the Cambridge University Queer Players.

We have a total of eight players, including several couples. Originally it had an all-male cast, and part of the intention appears to have been to show the folly of adult gay male couples mimicking or adopting the behaviours and assumptions of heterosexual couples.

Much of the time I found it hard take as real the ways that the characters were speaking to each other. The “or” game that appeared to be the basis of communication between the first couple added to a sense of hazy unreality in the relationship. Would it have been more helpful to have presented this couple later?

I found it difficult to get a handle on the relationships presented. If you want to make the cast half female that is fine and a very interesting experiment, but much of the problem for me lay with the dialogue. Much of the time it was staccato statements that work against real connection between people. One character had clearly been abused, but his successive appearances served to underline his damaged neediness without us getting any deeper understanding.

One speech struck me where a character begins by telling his partner he is exciting. He stands and delivers this speech from a distance. Maybe that is meant as a statement, but he could have used the whole stage, gone across and touched the partner, looked at the ceiling, done many things.

Overall, I found the production dull and confusing. Much of the time the dialogue was not given sufficient energy and commitment, was not sufficiently owned. I came to this play with eager anticipation and I went away disappointed.

Tony Challis