F**KING MEN | London, Waterloo East Theatre

London’s longest-running fringe show is back, with an updated script by the one-act play’s Tony award-winning writer and creator, Joe DiPietro. An all-male, all-gay adaptation of Schnitzler’s La Ronde (1897), this four-hander is inspired by the roundelay that gay men go through in pursuit of sex; on Grindr, in saunas, and with your husband of eleven years. There is also, not incidentally, full-frontal male nudity throughout.

“Fucking Men” (2009) is both a description of what gay guys do, and a quote from what many scream out of despair at male behaviour. The performance plays out like a sketch show of duos, but where one character from every sketch carries over into the next one. The only problem is, with four actors playing ten characters, things can get a little confusing. For example, two scenes with a fifty-year-old city banker, played by young hunk Stanton Plummer-Cambridge, don’t convey the tired husband and sugar-daddy the script calls for. It seems like the decision to cast four actors is financial, rather than artistic.

In the tiny, hundred-seater theatre, the laughs come thick and fast, not least from Derek Mitchell, whose flamboyant theatre writer character elicits major laughs from a metatheatrically aware audience.

The new production looks amazing, with exquisite lighting design (Alex Lewer) and a set (Cara Evans) created out of smart-tinting glass that switches electronically from opaque to transparent: the perfect way to transfer seamlessly from the steam room to the office.

Playing at Waterloo East Theatre 20 April – 18 June 2023.

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