INCITEMENT TO RIOT | London, King’s Head Theatre

This extraordinary new play written by and starring Ben Kavanagh (The Convert) focuses on an older gay couple who hates each other, and the younger couple of men they invite to a “party”. The couple’s plush apartment, high-up in Soho, becomes more and more claustrophobic as the time ticks by, as we see how their party progresses from 6:30pm to 4am.

What starts as one or two humorous jibes between lovers becomes full-blown aggressive and sadistic, as failed, alcoholic artist Terry (Ben Kavanagh) clashes with long-term partner Hal (Adam Waddington) over just how “open” their relationship is supposed to be. All four indulge in more and more cocaine as they call for Alexa to turn up the volume higher and higher, upping the ante and creating unbearable tension.

Although set in the present day, there’s no Grindr; there’s no smartphones, and there’s even no internet. One of the young’uns asks Alexa to play a brief snippet of Lady Gaga’s 2008 hit “Poker Face”; this is as modern as the music gets. This is a play in the great tradition of naturalistic plays like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), where we are planted in a room and not allowed to leave.

Plays this good are not supposed to be on at the fringe. Such taut, fresh writing, performed by such a formidable cast (although it has to be said Ben Kavanagh steals the show) is supposed to be on the West End. We need a transfer – immediately.

Presented as part of THE TAKEOVER: A Queer Interrogation Season 19 April – 14 May 2023.

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