Coming Clean at the King’s Head Theatre
Coming Clean was Kevin Elyot’s first professional play and was originally performed three decades ago, marking its 35th anniversary this year. Set in 1982, Elyot’s heartbreaking and hilarious piece marks 15 years since homosexual acts in the UK were decriminalised, and the all-male cast follow the lives of five young homosexuals as they manoeuvre their way around the London gay scene in the 80s.
Tony is audacious and sarcastic, a struggling writer who lives with his partner, Greg, in their dismal porridge-coloured flat. Greg, unlike Tony is an established writer and academic; his sincere character is intensified by actor Lee Knight’s gruff New York accent, which resonates and captures the room. Their seemingly healthy five-year relationship has been the result of a disregard of monogamy and a shared openness to the occasional one-night stand. Love and sex appear separate in the play, and Elyot does wonders at addressing the trials and tribulations of homosexual relationships in the 80s: unmasking the sexual obstacles that gay couples face, and questioning whether love and sex can truly remain unconnected.
The play opens with Tony sat with his friend William on the worn and conveniently rust-coloured sofa in his Kentish Town flat. They wait for Robert, the new cleaner Tony has insisted on hiring, to turn up. Elliot Hadley who plays William (and later Jurgen) masters his role as the boisterous, flamboyant Scouse, whose vulgar profanity and uncomfortably vivid sexual descriptions will have theatre-goers in fits of laughter and never looking at a doughnut the same way again. William insists their new cleaner will essentially be their houseboy, joking about the hierarchical positions in the flat with tragic irony as it is exactly the ranking between Greg, Tony and Robert that engenders a toxic love triangle. When Robert turns up he is doe-eyed, gorgeous and endearingly naïve. His politeness wins over even the austerity of Greg who pursues a four-month affair with the Adonis-like cleaner behind Tony’s back. It is at this point that Elyot exposes the unwritten truth of polyamorous relationships – unveiling what happens when love and sex and their supposed separateness is overturned, and whether it is ever truly possible to love two people at once.
Photo: Paul Nicholas Dyke
Coming Clean is at the King’s Head Theatre from 25th July until 26th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.