2014 was the year that the Above The Stag theatre established itself as London’s most out and proud space for gay theatre. It delivered true diversity of performance, ranging from productions that delved into the more serious shades of gay identity to the lighter end of the spectrum, throwing a bright rainbow spotlight on the comedy many of us relish in life. Their latest production sits joyfully into that latter category, and presents the perfect antidote to dull dry (and cold!) January.
The Boys Upstairs bills itself as ‘Sex and the City meets Boys in the Band’ but there’s a hefty dose of Golden Girls in there, too, courtesy of the voracious sexual appetite of ‘Southern Belle’ Joe Leather who comfortably delivers the sassy Blanche Devereaux-slash-Samantha Jones quips. (His outfits are certainly from the Blanche/Samantha school of flamboyance!) The story kicks off when Joe’s character, Ashley, returns from overseas and crashes back into the lives of his besties Josh (Simon Walton) and Seth (Stanley Eldridge). What follows is a tour de force of late nights, snappy repartee and random hook-ups with hilarious consequences as they fawn over the new boy in the block Eric (Daniel Garcia) and negotiate their own failings with the sometimes excessive expectations they place on their friendships.
Noted praise should also go out to Hugh O’Donnell who plays no less than six roles during the play and not once confuses us with his costume changes, such is the confidence he delivers each very different character.
As innuendo goes, there’s more loaded into this hour-and-a-half than an entire run of Carry On films, with gags jumping from knowingly crass to sharply witty. And just when you thought the play’s writer was perhaps pandering to type, he delivers a clever self-referential moment when Josh’s aspirations to be the founder of the next big hit gay app are branded ‘stereotyped’ and ‘too niche’.
The Boys Upstairs had the audience in roars of laughter. If you’re tired of hearing about the doom and gloom of humdrum life, get your arse onto one of the seats at the Above the Stag theatre and throw yourself into some wild gay abandon before the run ends.
• Above the Stag Theatre, Arch 17, Miles Street, Vauxhall SW8 1RZ.
Runs to Sunday 15th February. www.abovethestag.com