London ReviewsSaul Reichlin

F**king Men

By Joe DiPietrofuckingmenlogo

Directed by Phil Willmott with Samuel Miller

Designed by Nigel Hook

Lighting design by Peter Bragg

Arts Theatre
6 – 7 Great Newport Street London WC2H 7JB

Call +44 (0) 845 017 5584 Tickets £15 – £17.50
Joint ticket with Naked Boys Singing £25 – £30

Fucking Men: Tues – Sat 7.30pm
Naked Boys Singing: Tues – Sat 9.30pm

Running time 1 Hour 30 mins with no intermission

Limited Season

The World’s a Gay Stage

The aggressive closet army gay/homophobe, the horny college boy, the escort/whore, the film star with a secret, the bored male married couple, the porn star, the pretentious writer etc etc all, without exception, are desperate for something they haven’t got. Fabulous material with which to people an excoriating and witty story. But the abiding conclusion is that within the gay world there isn’t a single relationship without a malcontent, unfulfilled, unhealthy, frustrated and dishonest, and there isn’t a single person one would like to meet.

Inventing traps for himself, director Phil Willmott has created a kind of sit-com artificiality out of otherwise serious, genuine relationships. That doesn’t mean the night has to be serious – what’s funnier than perceptive truth? The clearly hoped for atmosphere that would be provided by a vast smoke machine was simply toxic, and did nothing more than make breathing difficult. Something entirely more sophisticated, and less ‘clever’ is what the West End demands. Some shows just belong in some venues and not in others.

As if to say the public have grown out of needing to sit and watch men groping each other to know that it happens, there’s not much of it about. Thus the show cannot be accused of titillation, voyeurism, or sex for its own sake. So – hardly any sex, little or no violence, physical or emotional, but also no love, only desire, no warmth, only sentimentality, and nothing and no-one to believe in, really, except when it’s too late – the one redeeming thought brought to the party by that rare creature, the Journalist with a heart.

The theatrical requirement of neatly tying up everything after 90 highly energised minutes led to a neat conclusion where ‘everyone finds someone new’ when what they have needs replacement, updating or upgrading, and the million permutations of gay life conveniently fit the prescribed formula. Fucking Men is not Angels in America, but there may be enough support in the community to give this fitfully entertaining piece a reasonable season at the Arts.

Somewhat Recommended

Saul Reichlin

London correspondent

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