Tag Archives: Alan Turkington

My Night With Reg

My Night With Reg

★★★★

The Turbine Theatre

My Night With Reg

My Night With Reg

The Turbine Theatre

Reviewed – 29th July 2021

★★★★

 

“The writing is timeless and the acting faultless”

 

When “My Night With Reg” premiered at the Royal Court in 1994, Kevin Elyot’s depiction of the ups and downs of a circle of gay friends was seen to be ground-breaking and dissenting. A smash hit, it was considered to be the first gay play in which being gay wasn’t an issue. To revive it today there is the risk of it passing by unnoticed. The novelty value is obviously going to be diluted, if not dissolved completely, awash in a scene where much of London’s theatreland is championing the gay community. Yet it is the beauty of Elyot’s writing: his wit, compassion and insight, that make the task much easier. The writing will stand up at any point in history. Like his first play, “Coming Clean”, which tackles similar issues but when AIDS was still just a rumour in Britain, it doesn’t wave any flags or thrust articles of faith into our hands. It is a play about friendships and about how to keep those friendships alive; about lying and cheating and the subsequent costs of deception. It is about how we hold onto each other amid the barrage of adversity that is thrown at us.

And that is what comes across in Matt Ryan’s revival at the Turbine Theatre. It doesn’t try to replicate the storm that swept it onto the stage nearly three decades ago. Instead, it relies on a company of exceptional actors knocking back wonderful moments of nostalgia with their whisky chasers. Each cast member savours the language, embellishing it with their body language, mannerisms and silences that flesh out their characters.

Guy (Paul Keating) is nervously welcoming his university pal John (Edward M Corrie) into his flat warming party. The awkwardness stems from the unspoken and unrequited love that Guy feels for John. From the off we relish the realism that Keating brings to the shy Guy, fawning and fumbling in the face of Corrie’s cool composure. There’s a crackle in the air that is soon blown away when Gerard McCarthy’s Daniel storms in, buzzing with irreverence. The dialogue is swift and seemingly inconsequential, yet it skilfully establishes the relationships and connections between the ensemble. In the background is Eric (James Bradwell), Guy’s young decorator; initially an outsider but who very quickly wrangles a place centre stage. Alan Turkington and Stephen K Amos join the party as the bickering odd couple Bernie and Benny.

Never seen, but always present is the eponymous Reg. Reg is the one who binds them and can potentially drive them apart. It is no spoiler to reveal that each character onstage has had their ‘night with Reg’ at some point or other. It is the aftermath, the secrets and duplicity, the heartache, sorrow and dangers they each face after Reg has died that are the revelations in this skilfully constructed production. Lee Newby’s design, with its scattering of vinyl records and house plants, wonderfully mirrors the play’s mix of nostalgia and concurrence; concord and discord. The big picture is in the detail. And likewise, the big moments are found in the small gestures.

It seems irrelevant to harp on about the relevance of “My Night With Reg”. The writing is timeless and the acting faultless. The themes are shadowed by death, loss, grief, fear and sorrow but the strength of the personalities, not just of the characters but of the actors themselves, light up the darkest corners of the space, revealing the untidy dust balls of hope and optimism and the need to hang on to the delicacy of friendship that we can all relate to. AIDS is another central character, but the fact that it is never mentioned in the script, without diminishing its pertinence, enhances the play’s longevity and universality. And this heartfelt homage to Elyot will ensure the continued success and interest in his work.

 

 

Reviewed by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Mark Senior

 


My Night With Reg

The Turbine Theatre until 21st August

 

Previously reviewed at this venue in 2021:
My Son’s A Queer But What Can You Do | ★★★½ | The Turbine Theatre | June 2021

 

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We Anchor in Hope

★★★★

The Bunker

We Anchor in Hope

We Anchor in Hope

The Bunker

Reviewed – 3rd October 2019

★★★★

 

“a richly atmospheric show about memory, community, and what it means to let go.”

 

The stage area of The Bunker Theatre has been transformed into a neighbourhood pub. With a fully-functioning bar, ‘The Anchor’ is open an hour prior to each performance for drinks and pool. There’s no need to go out to the foyer for a pint during the interval. A pub quiz every Tuesday night after the show, and karaoke every Thursday night, completes the transformation.

Written by Anna Jordan and directed by Chris Sonnex, We Anchor in Hope is a simmering, uneasy piece that reminds us how precarious our footholds are in society’s ever-shifting landscape. Designed by Zoe Hurwitz, The Anchor is a working-class, locals’ pub. It’s an old bastion in its Pimlico neighbourhood, but the play begins on its last day in business. The year is 2016. The referendum has just passed. The owner calls The Anchor a “safe place”, a haven from the madness. But while we may be safe inside, Jordan and Sonnex ensure we’re constantly aware of the tides of change lapping at the doors. The Anchor won’t withstand the relentless waves of gentrification.

The two young bartenders are Pearl (Alex Jarrett) and Bilbo (Daniel Kendrick). Pearl has grown up in bars. She remembers being six years old, colouring in colouring books while her mum flirted at the pool table. Bilbo got his nickname from his love of The Hobbit. Raised in foster homes, the community at The Anchor is the closest thing he’s had to family. Regulars Frank (David Killick) and Shaun (Alan Turkington) are in almost every day. Frank, in his seventies, is a fixture at the pub. He’s seen it change hands from father to son. Shaun works construction during the week, and goes home at the weekends to see his wife and kids. Kenny (Valentine Hanson) owns the pub. It’s been a rough few months for him. His wife left around the same time he was forced to sell The Anchor.

The crew decide to have one last hurrah on The Anchor’s final night. The last of the alcohol needs to be drunk. “When it’s gone, it’s gone.” As the night unfolds, tensions rise, secrets are revealed, and decisions are reached. The five personalities of the play are dynamic and complicated, compellingly brought to life by a talented cast. Killick stands out for his precise portrayal of The Anchor’s own anchor, Frank; Kendrick for his earnest performance of the down-and-out Bilbo.

We Anchor in Hope is largely a character study. It works for the most part, thanks to the vividness of the characters and the strength of the cast. However, the lack of narrative thread can make the show feel long at times. The beginning is slow, and the play takes some time to find its stride. More shape to the story would cut down the instances when the show seems to stall or drift.

Nevertheless, Jordan has skilfully captured the brief sigh of mourning – for the comfort of the status quo, and the nostalgia for the way things were – before the necessity of moving on. This is a working-class story. All communities must adapt with the changing times, but it’s the working classes that are hit the hardest. It’s harder punches they have to roll with, and while it seems clear the crew at The Anchor will survive – they are survivors – they’ll carry the bruises with them.

Jordan, Sonnex, and Hurwitz have created a richly atmospheric show about memory, community, and what it means to let go. Pull up a barstool and join in the bitter celebration for the end of an era.

 

Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by Helen Murray

 


We Anchor in Hope

The Bunker until 19th October

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Welcome To The UK | ★★ | January 2019
Boots | ★★★★ | February 2019
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019

 

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