Outlaws to In-laws
King’s Head Theatre
Reviewed – 31st August 2017
“it has it’s fair share of sequins, cutting remarks, and tight white underwear!”
If I’m honest – I didn’t feel great about going to the theatre this evening. After a hectic (and fun!) extra long weekend, today was a lazy day to recover before work tomorrow. I fancied climbing into PJs and selecting a spot on the sofa rather than climbing into the car and searching for a place to park!
So I gave myself a good talking to. Being a no-show is never an option and only once in my life have I left at an interval because the play was so awful (not naming and shaming here!). So I ate an early meal and braved the drive across the Isle of Dogs to Islington.
I know the Kings Head Pub theatre well and am happy that their almost 50 successful years are to be rewarded with a move to ‘better’ premises – but I will miss their current venue when they go.
Thanks to the usual London traffic I pretty much skidded to a halt in the last legal spot by the pub and threw myself into the auditorium as the lights dimmed! And that was pretty much the pace set for the evening …
‘Outlaws to In-laws’ is two hours long (including the interval) and tackles a decade about every 15 minutes. It takes the audience through the struggles and hopes, dreams and joys of gay men from a time when being themselves was unlawful to present day.
Each scene is set with a contemporary event: the Queen’s coronation, Police arrests of the sixties, Skinhead violence of the seventies and the bombing of the Tory conference in the eighties as well as charting the untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales (appropriately on the 20th anniversary), and referencing the rise in dating websites for the turn of the 21st century. Through each decade though, many of the challenges and choices remained the same for the characters even as society slowly altered.
Drug culture, whether pill or pint or pot, was intertwined in the passing of time. Alongside this, the devastating arrival of HIV and AIDS, initially seen as a death sentence within the gay community, showing it as now a far more manageable condition.
We are all aware that intolerance, bias, hate, ignorance and violence has not yet disappeared from society but it was heartening to be reminded we have all come a long way in the right direction. The production ends more cheerfully and hopefully with a (possibly) ‘happy ever after’ moment in 2017, at the first gay wedding in a church.
Each decade has been written by a different playwright but a narrative weaves it’s way through them all beautifully with hinted at links between each tale. The cast (Myles Devontè, Paul Carroll, Alex Marlow, Elliot Balchin, Jack Hence and Michael Duke) were wonderful, switching between roles and eras with seamless perfection.
Despite what may sound like a history lesson of gay life, be reassured it has it’s fair share of sequins, cutting remarks, and tight white underwear! The scripts are littered with laugh out loud moments, often used to offset a more emotional moment, without lessening the point. The audience appreciated it all, giggling in anticipation with a few belly laughs thrown in.
As the opener to the Queer Festival ’17, Outlaws to In-laws is a fantastic play that deserves, and needs, to be seen by everyone.
Reviewed by Joanna Hinson
Production Photography by Paul Dyke
OUTLAWS TO IN-LAWS
is at The King’s Head Theatre until 23rd September