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Blowing Whistles

1

Written by Matthew Todd

 

Directed by Pete Nettell

 

Leicester Square Theatre

 

23 October – 29 November, 2008

 

 

 

 

TIM JEEVESzen

A review by Tim Jeeves for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

The brand new Leicester Square Theatre must be hoping to make its mark on London’s West End with the return of 2006’s Blowing Whistles and the rest of its program in this, the theatre’s opening season.
As a marker of things to come, it’s probably fair to say that Blowing Whistles announces the theatre favourably though with question marks in key areas.


The play centres on the 10th anniversary of Nigel and Jamie, two thirty-something gay everymen with a penchant (and set of rules) for the occasional threesome with a random individual found through the website Gaydar. The performances from all three actors in this exploration of what gay life in London today means for different generations are solid, with Paul Keating’s role as the camp Jamie – a sensitive soul with a sense of perspective – especially strong.


Very obviously intended for a gay audience, the play raises a number of issues present in the homosexual zeitgeist – a prescriptive body image / lifestyle and the sense that the younger generation aren’t aware of the battles for gay rights that took place in the eighties, whilst it also looks at the residual homophobia lingering on in wider society.


But unfortunately, that’s all the play does – it ‘raises’ these issues, it illustrates them onstage, but doesn’t dig into enough depths to raise new questions, suggest new ways of living (other than to leave your partner), or really pick apart where exactly these problems arise.


Matthew Todd’s writing is undeniably very sharp, his background as a stand-up comedian has given him a talent for one-liners, but their constant succession does mean that – whilst the laughs were very forthcoming from the supportive audience – there aren’t enough peak and troughs to make this a great piece of theatre. Even Keating’s powerful monologue that outlines the trajectory of Jamie and Nigel’s relationship has a laugh-grabbing one-liner at its conclusion when what we really wanted was some time to absorb the effect of the words just said.


Pete Nettell’s direction is fine, with some well-integrated video footage and moving character dynamics but, at heart, I came away feeling like I had been watching a sit-com. And sit-coms are fine at home on the television when vegging out after a long day, but when visiting the theatre, I suspect I’m not alone in hoping for something a little more substantial.

 

Ticket Info:  £25 (£20 concessions)

Box Office: 0844 847 2475
www.leicestersquaretheatre.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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