Boys in the Band

Saturday, 8 November, 1997

The story concerns a group of gay friends who gather at Michael's (Robin Hart) flat to celebrate one of their fellow gay friends birthday. However, when Michael's old school friend, Alan (Paul Venables), calls round unexpected, events are set to explode. This is because Alan is straight and is also homophobic, and has no idea Michael is gay.

This play was written in the sixties when homosexuality was not tolerated by society as much as it is today, so I'm sure the play was more controversial and shocking to audiences when first staged in 1968, rather than now. However, many of the points put across in the play are as relevant now as they were then. Homophobia still exists and so too does the loneliness and need for companionship for many gay people. The play is well written and is full of interesting characters that capture the gay scene perfectly. The drama is also very funny, with some great comic characters, particularly 'Emory', a camp queen, played by Earl Grey. The rest of the company is also convincing. However, the best performance of the evening is by Luke Williams who plays 'Harold'. He puts in a solid performance with great comic timing. I particularly liked his mannerisms and facial expressions, a joy!

Most of the popular press liked the play. JANE EDWARDS of TIME OUT says the play is " Enjoyable" and has "Outrageous banter" . CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH describes the play as a " Fascinating sociological document as well as an intermittently entertaining comedy." PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE was impressed by Mart Crowley's "skilful, if contrived, character drawing." However, ROBERT HEWISON of THE SUNDAY TIMES says the play was a "Clumsy, under-powered production" and goes on to say it was " Weakly cast".

In all, an evening's entertainment that should be enjoyed by all, but sadly, it will most probably be seen mainly by gay people.

(Darren Dalglish)

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