F*cking Men at The Vaults Theatre
Ever since La Ronde was first written at the turn of the 20th century, it has been recycled, adapted and morphed into countless different forms. It now finds itself underground at the Vault’s Theatre, as the basis for Joe Di Pietro’s clever, funny and really quite enthralling F*cking Men. The bold title gives the play something to live up to, and it does so with panache: themes of sex, the place of monogamy, intimacy and the will to connect in today’s gay scene are sewn together in a sexy patchwork quilt of ten characters, performed by three actors, in constantly shifting states of undress. These matters are not necessarily of unique concern to the gay community, but by focusing the lens in such a way Di Pietro’s script brings to the fore the complexity and messiness of a world that, even in our so-called enlightened age, is all too often stifled by hollow stereotypes – or played out in backstage broom cupboards – and still haunted by the spectre of HIV and Aids.
Actors Richard De Lisle, Harper James and Haydn Whiteside all give excellent performances, showing off their range and deftly passing between the comic and the serious to great effect. De Lisle in particular moves between vastly different accents and voices, each being as believable as the next. Although the shifts in accent and costume between James and Whiteside’s characters are sometimes less remarked, both give nuanced interpretations of each role, with Whiteside standing out in his portrayal of one of the more vulnerable characters, who tops and tails F*cking Men.
What perhaps makes the trio’s performance stand out all the more is the stage they are framed by. Save for a few isolated boxes, which get repositioned to form various things the characters either sit or have sex on, the stage is bare. This throws into relief the drive for connection through physical touch that lies at the heart of each scene, be that attachment emotional, desperate, or purely inspired by lust.
Despite brief moments where the transition between certain characters is not as distinct as it could be, F*cking Men’s play with gay stereotypes and bold exploration of connection through sex is a well-executed piece of theatre and intelligently performed. Whatever your persuasion may be, this piece comes highly recommended.
F*cking Men is at The Vaults Theatre from 2nd November until 15th January 2017, for further information or to book visit here.