As a heterosexual woman, I was most definitely not this play’s target audience (whatever the title might suggest). About a straight man (Lee) being propositioned by a gay one (Stanley) on a live chat show, the play is purportedly based on real events. A kaleidoscope of drag queen acts, chat show snippets and reality TV-esque insights into both protagonists’ home lives, the show was definitely entertaining, helped along by the buzz of a full and very receptive audience.
Flamboyant and ostentatious celebrations of gay sexuality can be a huge amount of fun – and, to be fair, the predominantly gay couples in the audience did seem to enjoy it more than I did – but I can’t help feeling that some scenes in the performance lacked a pizzazz and wow factor. Take Queen Sally’s singing for example: Martin Milnes has a quite phenomenal falsetto, and points in each song’s performance were delivered with particular flair and real comic timing. However, apart from bringing an enviable figure to both the glitzy shimmering outfits he flaunted, I wasn’t sure how much value was added by performing song after song in the Flamenco gay bar. Once I had seen one drag queen act I felt I’d pretty much seen them all and felt Milnes would have done better to condense the quality highlights into just a couple of performances. His songs worked best in the second half when they allowed the actors to press pause on key moments shared between Lee (Adam Isdale) and Stanley (Wesley Dow).
Although the escalation of sexual tension between Isdale and Dow was captured surprisingly well, the rest of the time I felt that the play’s portrayal of male stereotypes was too crudely done. It was the support of a stronger female cast that lifted the production: Julie Ross struck a believable mother figure, whilst Amy Anzel’s parodic performance as chat show host Jill Johnson was brilliantly funny, her drawling nasal and elongated tones consistently winning without being too gratingly repetitive. The use of TV monitors in her scenes was beautifully done and really contributed to the professionalism with which the TV scenes were shot.
Set, costumes and lighting were all very professional and used to great effect, and I did feel that the plot’s conceit was a good one and had the potential to go far, if developed further and executed with more subtle complexity. If the play had extended the obvious plotline to say something subtle and thought-provoking about the everyday prejudices that people, even in this ostensibly liberal time, still harbour against gay people, the play would have been the better for it. As it was, it stuck to the superficial, and did that moderately well.