The off-Broadway hit is a fun, festive frolic!
By Mark Hamill
Fresh from rave reviews in an off-Broadway run this summer, Staten Island set The Crumple Zone could easily be set not far from its Clapham Ominbus and soon to be Pleasance Stagespace home. The American nuances do not hamper the resonance for British audiences of the exploration of gay male relationships: romantic, plutonic, fleeting and closeted.
The cast fulfil your expected tropes of gay men in theatre – while still making you smile throughout. There’s the hot one, the one that’s in a relationship, the one that’s in denial, the cuckold and the highly strung diva. Samuel Tucker plays Terry, a fun mix of Julian Clary and Liza Minelli, prone to bouts of hysteria and deliverer of corking one liners such as ‘Everyone I know is too cheap and hateful to die’. Jack Armstrong is Buck, your handsome guy chasing an unavailable man, in this case, Alex. Played by Kit Lloyd, this aspiring thespian is left behind by his long term partner Matt (Tim Jennings) and is left to face life playing Santa as he rolls from job to job in the Staten Mall as he pines for Matt, inevitably becoming embroiled with Buck. Finally, Roger, a blue-collar man who engages in a tryst with Terry, and one of the bigger shocks of the story.
So far, so normal! But actually, the characters’ dialogue and interaction are very believable. We all have friendship groups that can spiral out of control sometimes and this is exactly what happens here. Set in shared living room/pressure cooker of Terry and Alex, we are treated tears, tantrums, touching moments and twists. Similar in style to the likes of Yazmina Reza’s God of Carnage (watch the Roman Polanski film with Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet and you’ll know what I mean – camp!), the play deals exclusively with the exploration of relationships – often a tricky topic in the gay world. Where do the lines of friendship, love and the unrequited blur?
As an intriguing character study, I would highly recommend a festive visit to the shabby interiors of this Staten Island dive and challenge you not to laugh out loud as I and the rest of the audience did throughout the entire play.
The Crumple Zone is at The Clapham Omnibus until 23rd December, then at Pleasance Stagespace from 27th – 29th December. Click here for more info and tickets.