Stuart King

Review: F**KING MEN at Waterloo East Theatre

Joe DiPietro’s 2009 fringe favourite F**KING MEN has been treated to a timely update and has embarked on a run at the intimate Waterloo East venue.

Charlie Condou and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge in F**king Men. Photo Darren BellCharlie Condou and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge in F**king Men. Photo Darren Bell

Boasting Charlie Condou in a cast of 4, which includes Derek Mitchell, Alex Britt and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge the narrative should more accurately be described as a sequence of vignettes spread over an indeterminate number of years and follows 10 men via a fly-on-the-wall approach to their multitudinous and interconnected sexual encounters. And whilst it may not appeal to the blue-rinse brigade or anyone who espouses moral rectitude (as opposed to any other sorts of rectitude!) it offers many and frequent moments of universal humanity throughout its snappy 90 minute running time.

It has struck this reviewer that to make much of the fact that the story is based (however loosely) on Schnitzler’s La Ronde, is to overplay the modern reputation and popularity of Schnitzler (Who? You may ask), nevertheless the association is writ large on the marketing paraphernalia and the playwright cites it as a major influence on this work, so it is mentioned here for what it is worth.

Essentially the piece explores the fundamental contradiction inherent in gay society, of men eager to find love and meaningful connection, whilst also being free to pursue the thrill of sexual freedom and promiscuity. So, does the play offer any answers to this conundrum, or mere titillation whilst engaging in exploration of the subject? Rather appropriately (for the predominantly gay audience), the answer is both. The intimate moments are handled robustly enough to convey a sense of physical intensity. The actors are sufficiently gifted to be convincing in their verbal exchanges and the occasional insightful speech lands enough considered material to elicit wry nods and chuckles from the overwhelmingly appreciative audience.

As you might expect given the title and subject matter, there’s a bit of flesh on show in director Steven Kunis’ production, but as with all such instances in theatre, it’s worth reminding ourselves that it’s nothing our grandmothers won’t have seen, so any prudish tendencies should be checked at the door as you take your seat and prepare for your bout of vicarious hedonism.