Having booked your tickets for a gay-sex-app themed opera, you aren’t nestled in your chair, theatre binoculars in hand, expecting some Puccini masterwork. You and your cohort of merry queers are looking for a good night out, making heavy use of the theatre bar. Grindr the Opera delivers all you need to get your jollies off, with scenes embarrassingly familiar to all of us unfortunate enough to have resorted to trolling the app for a little company of an evening. It’s what happens when libido meets libretto, when the anus meets the aria.
Telling the story of Devon (the doctor who’s on the app for the first time a few months post-breakup), Tom (the regular user who’s grown tired of bed-hopping), Don (the older married father who’s looking to get his rocks off) and Jack (a cock-hungry twink on the hunt for a dom top), the four Grindr-ers find themselves in trouble as their storylines intertwine. Though it seems to be love at first sight for Devon’s first one-night-stand with Tom, the same cannot be said of Jack who’s lured to Don’s hotel room only to discover he looks nothing like his picture. We’ve all been there. Ever-present is the titular Grindr, a mystic and ominous rendering of the app in a back crow-feather neck-brace, and his two sassy minions Occulto and Dilectus. We see Devon and Tom’s relationship blossom, though when the leading couple get their happily ever after at the end of the first act, it’s safe to say that rainbows and fairy-dust aren’t to follow in act two.
Fluffy subject matter has always been a source of inspiration for Opera, from bedding servants in The Marriage of Figaro all the way up to popping pills in Ann Nicole (telling the story of Ann Nichole Smith) which caused controversy by taking the stage of the Royal Opera House back in 2013. The show shies away form the more problematic aspect of the app’s culture, though seeing a predominantly white-cast wrestle its prevalent racism would have made for uncomfortable viewing.
The production’s strength lies largely in the cast’s unwavering vocal talent. A show completely set to music is a hard thing to commit to, but you are instantly assured to be in good hands with Christian Lunn proudly boasting his vocal prowess during the opening number. Special praise should be given to David Malcom and his jaw-droppingly dramatic rendering of the word ‘Hep-a-ti-i-i-tis’.
This production comes as one of the first productions at Above the Stag’s brand-spaking-new venue in the arches of Vauxhall, and the production made good use of this amazing new performance space. Though not making sweeping, life-affirming statements on the unshakeable presence of the app within the gay scene, it’s a brilliantly silly show that proves very enjoyable, stuffed full of camp one-liners and hilarious back-and-forths. Much like a Tuesday night hookup you meet on the app, Grindr the Opera was a bit of fun that didn’t overstay its welcome.
Grindr the Opera is at Above the Stag until the 26 August. Tickets available at abovethestag.com.
Above the Stag, 72 Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London SE1 7TP.