F***ING MEN, FINBOROUGH THEATRE EARL'S COURT
TEN SCENES, 10 men, and one outstanding production. Unlike the title may suggest,
F***ing Men, now at the Finborough Theatre, Earl's Court, is anything but a tasteless play aimed at the gay community.
Written by naughty New Yorker Joe DiPietro, it is a unflinching study of humanity which ultimately defies gender.
By attacking the central theme of all relationships - our desire to share love and connect with one another - no-one is spared from unsettling questions such as: "Are we really meant to sleep with the same person over and over again for the rest of our lives?"
The structure, based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1897 play La Ronde, follows a series of interlinked sexual encounters set in modern-day New York.
If you'd rather be surprised by the twists and turns, then skip this next paragraph; but if you choose to read on, then brace yourself.
Army cadet (Nick Keith) meets a rent boy in the park; the rent boy (Shai Metuki) is called up by a TV presenter for some fun in his high-rise flat; the TV presenter (Patrick Poletti) is interviewing a Hollywood actor (Guy Fearon) who had an indiscretion with a playwright; the playwright (Scott Capurro) previously picked up a porn star in a bar; the porn star
(Adam Unze) is having an affair with a wealthy man; the wealthy man (Morgan James) has been with his partner for 13 years; his partner of 13 years (Timothy Lone) met a college student on the internet; the college student (James Kristian) is trying to seduce his tutor (Chris Pollock), and the tutor is having steamy sessions at the gym with the Army cadet.
It sounds like a labyrinth, but fear not. The end result is a seemingly effortless chain of events thanks to a combination of factors. The acting, helped in no small part by the fluidity of DiPietro's writing, is excellent across the board.
Finely executed techniques orchestrated between director Phil Wilmott and lighting man Hansjorg Schmidt help to avoid confusion between the characters. And the look of the set in the tiny 50-seat theatre raises to the challenge yet again, this time thanks to the impressionistic graphic depictions
of New York buildings by Alistair Turner. In the original production of La Ronde the theme was the transmission of syphilis throughout Viennese society. The transmission of AIDS certainly plays a part in this modern adaptation, yet the poignancy of the play is never outstripped by its humour.
Scott Capuro is the obvious oneto-watch considering his parallel career in stand-up comedy, but just as hilarious are Morgan James' dalliances behind his long-term partner's back and James Kristian's insuppressable appetite for attention. Provocative, entertaining and engaging - F***ing Men is much more than meets the eye.
* F***ing Men, by Joe DiPietro, runs at the Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, Earl's Court, SW10, until June 7. Tues-Sat 7.30pm. Sat/Sun mats 3pm. £13/9 concs. Call 08448 471 652. See www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk