Review: Rush, Trafalgar Studios, BBC arts

Rush, written by Willi Richards, was meant to premiere at Trafalgar Studios this summer. The creative team managed to cast Omari Douglas and Daniel Boyd as Boy and Lad before lockdown, but their production and casting process was suddenly halted by our Covid-19.

Lad is having an affair with Man whilst living with his boyfriend Boy. Man is 55 years old, a fair amount older than Lad, and is in a civil partnership but has many partners outside of this. This is very much a mutual arrangement with his partner and he calls it his ‘queer family’. 

The 90 minutes, now airing on BBC iPlayer, explores the interlinking lives of these three men with Lad in the middle. Boy, played with immense vulnerability and kindness by Douglas, thinks he is in a monogamous relationship but is intensely suspicious of Lad’s theatre tickets and books given to him by Man, who thinks of himself as quite the intellectual. A sharp and witty exploration of these three men’s emotions, we begin sympathising with Boy and his idea of Lad who he wants to spend forever with, but the charm of Rupert Everett’s reading of Man makes us feel convinced by his pleas and arguments in favour of the ‘queer family’ he is creating. Man wants to keep seeing Lad but he emphasises that it is not about sex, more about companionship, Boy is unconvinced. 

Performed over video call with quick cut segments between Lad and Boy and Lad and Man,  the final third is dedicated to a long conversation between Boy and Man. This exploration of both their emotions is the powerhouse of the piece with both of their ideas of a life with Lad being laid upon the table. You can’t help thinking as an audience how Lad has fallen on his feet with these intense emotional men fighting over him. Man in his cool and reasoned way with verbose language that irritates Boy and Boy with simple declarations of frustration and explanations of his best friend’s feelings towards Man: ‘she wants to slit your throat and break your fingers’. 

The 90-minutes end with a final conversation with Lad. This interaction with the camera feels like a conversation with a best-friend at a bar as he discloses his final decision to us. 

The power of Richards’s writing is in the candour of these characters, which gives them all a relatability despite being unpredictable. As Man says ‘predictable characters are dull’ and this piece’s individuality comes from its lack of villain. Rush is a clever, but sensitive exploration of what love means and, despite depicting an individual situation, the emotions evoked are universal. 

Rush is available to watch on BBC iPlayer from the 24th June.