The name really is in the title. A series of characters embarking on a host of sexual encounters, all of them looking for something meaningful in their connection with other men.
Joe DiPietro’s play about the thrills of quick sex has immediate resonance in the age of Grindr, and its long run at various fringe theatres must mean it has sustained audience attention, although I can’t help but feel the play’s title and concept are a bit of a cheap thrill in themselves. In this adapted version of the play for The Vaults Theatre a three man cast take on all the roles; we meet a squaddie a porn star, a tutor and a TV journalist amongst many others. Richard De Lisle takes us on a journey of accents as he morphs from one character to another, with his tongue-in-cheek portrayal of a playwright garnering the most laughs.
There is much to amuse in this frank presentation of gay subculture, with lots of coarse humour and playful language: “You want to screw me like a hammer? …but a hammer isn’t anything like a screw….” But if I’m honest there is more for the eye to feast on than the ear to dwell on; the cast seem to spend a huge amount of time and energy stripping, simulating sex and then quickly redressing before the next on-stage encounter.
The random hook-ups aren’t something to be written off, though, and the script explores why these brief encounters are sort after- the thrill, the ease, the need to remain closeted. But the play keeps coming back to the question of why gay men struggle with monogamy, and, while it offers no solutions, it at least ends of a note of genuine positivity.
Once you move passed the on-stage flesh, it’s hardly a racy play and I wouldn’t call it controversial either. If anything, the sheer number of characters introduced means they feel under-developed. Having said that, an audience member can hardly feel short-changed at a show that so clearly labels itself. F*cking Men delivers exactly what the title promises.
F*cking Men plays at The Vaults until December 4th.