My Gay Best Friend
Reviewed – 10th January 2018
“by the end I felt as though I had known Rachel and Gavin longer than they had known each other”
My Gay Best Friend opens with Rachel leaving Gavin an answerphone message. She isn’t happy, and calls him every available unflattering word for a gay man. This sets the tone for what is to come, a well-observed look at the close and often contradictory friendship between a gay man and a straight woman. Written and performed by Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs, the play unfolds as a series of mostly separate monologues, with Rachel and Gavin each telling their side of the story. Their interactions are limited to flashbacks and anecdotes, and there is the delightful sense of watching two equally vivid solo performances occasionally flare up together in ways that are funny, touching, and utterly relatable.
Jameson and Fairs are consummate performers ably served by meticulous direction from Veronica Roberts. Rachel is by turns brittle and outrageous, lively and furious, while Gavin is calmer, gentle and charmingly neurotic. Both are immediately recognisable as realer than real life. Particularly refreshing is that the character of Gavin is a human first, and a gay man second; his is more than another sorry tale of coming out, facing homophobia, and being a victim. In many ways, the dramatic heavy-lifting is framed from Rachel’s perspective and highlighted by her sexually incompatible friend, and the nuanced and particular relationship the two forge.
Jameson and Fairs’ writing is terrific, both very very funny and highly economical. Not a word is throwaway, and, by the end of My Gay Best Friend, I felt as though I had known Rachel and Gavin longer than they had known each other, with all the laughs, tears and trauma that that entails. Through constantly switching back and forth between monologues and flashbacks, the play is able to maintain a terrific, unpredictable momentum that is balanced by an even-handed and completely unapologetic harmony of humour and drama.
My Gay Best Friend achieves all this without much by the way of set or props, and, in doing so, is a standard-bearer for scratch theatre in London today. This play draws its strengths not from showiness or gimmickry, but instead from its sheer quality; excellent writing; careful direction; and performances so lucid that it is now hard to imagine that Rachel and her best friend Gavin are not real humans that are out there somewhere, still bickering after all.
Reviewed by Matthew Wild
My Gay Best Friend
Hope Theatre until 27th January