For Reasons That Remain Unclear – 2 Stars


For Reasons That Remain Unclear

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 27th July 2018


“Haines and Peterson both look the part, but together lack chemistry, spontaneity and variety in their performances”


Perhaps best known for his ground-breaking 1968 play ‘The Boys in the Band’, distinct for being one of the first Broadway productions to focus on the lives of the gay men, Mart Crowley is an inspiring and important playwright to have as headliner for the King’s Head Theatre’s 2018 Queer Season. Artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has called queer work a “vital part of [the King’s Head] programme” and it’s inspirational to see a well-known fringe theatre championing queer stories.

‘For Reasons that Remain Unclear…’ is an odd and troubling way to kick off the season then. Patrick and Conrad meet seemingly by accident on the streets of Rome and retire to a lavish hotel room together. There, they banter and tease their way through the afternoon, until a major twist upsets the days’ proceedings and alters everything we’ve seen before. Conrad, a staunch yet flamboyant Catholic priest is actually Patrick’s childhood abuser. The hotel door is locked, there’s no escape, and the pair must battle it out for repentance and reconciliation.

As proved recently in the saga that brought Kevin Spacey’s career to a standstill, relating themes of homosexuality with sexual abuse is a contentious idea, and one that this script ultimately fails to address comprehensively. First performed in 1993, Crowley’s text already feels dated, and struggles to stay engaging through to the very end. The characters are simply not interesting enough. It’s also so prescriptive (the sheer volume of stage directions and adverbs is absurd) that it cannot do anything except hamper the actors’ freedoms. Simon Haines and Cory Peterson both look the part, but together lack chemistry, spontaneity and variety in their performances. Daniele Alan-Carter, playing a very minor role as room service attendant, becomes a surprising hit, oozing sexual charm and confidence. Jessica Lazar, who’s astounding work on ‘East’ earlier this year remains a fringe highlight, here struggles to get her director’s voice heard. Like a drunken one-night stand, the climax of the piece is underwhelming, and again, restrained by its own design. Would you really confront your abuser just to then shout at him for fifteen minutes? Haines rattles through large chunks of climactic text as if he too simply wanted the whole thing to be over and done with.

At the end, what really remains unclear is: why is this play being staged now? Boring, monotonous, and drawn out, the King’s Head ought to do better than this story of male abuse if it wants to truly represent queer lives.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Alex Brenner


For Reasons That Remain Unclear

King’s Head Theatre until 25th August



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