"It’s like you’ve spent your whole life convincing yourself you wanna be like everyone else. But you don't, do you?" Shaun Kitchener opens the Queer Season at The Kings Head with a play that questions the idea that there’s a “right” way to be gay, including a non-binary character, with two contrasting relationships and plenty of laughs.
When Taylor and Riley need to rent out their spare room to Parker and Jamie, they are wise to worry about how it may work out. We are treated to many revelations about each character’s past and present in some cracking dialogue. There are occasional soap-box moments where the message is pushed a little clumsily, but these are forgotten in a story that certainly made me think. And laugh a lot. But at 100 minutes, it’s too long to run straight through.
The newcomers challenge Taylor and Riley’s comfortable, respectable set-up. As Taylor, Jordan Laviniere plays a cool yet prissy home-maker who is affronted to be accused of being middle class and even worse, Conservative. He gradually unwinds as his beliefs are challenged. Very subtle work. Chris Jenkins’ Riley is the more open and laid-back partner, totally convincing as a member of a boy-band from 10 years ago. His final scenes have compelling raw emotion.
Jamie and Parker have an open relationship. Jamie (Imran Adams) is initially the quiet one. The quiet one is always the danger. He glowers with self-confidence, refusing to compromise his view of life. When he erupts, it’s impressive. Matt Greenwood is non-binary Parker. A challenging character to deal with, but they put it out there with full power and fragility.
James Callas Ball’s compelling direction has them manoeuvre around each other delicately as the new housemates test each other out. All that… glisters is not gold? All that.. jazz? I’m not sure what the title refers to, but I like the idea that Kitchener quotes The Merchant of Venice to highlight the risk in making choices in relationships.