5 Guys Chillin’

As you might expect, 5 Guys Chillin’ is about, well, chillouts. Otherwise known as gay sex parties, often involving or sometimes totally rotating around, drugs like G and mephedrone.

I’ve been to a few of them. They can be scary, hilarious, ridiculous, sexy or all of the above. And Peter Darney’s brave, sensory play captured all of that perfectly. The portrayal was flawlessly accurate, down to the last pair of nylon shorts. In a stark, realistic, totally un-preachy way, he painted a very real portrait of a situation more and more urban gay men are finding themselves facing.

There’s a lot of dialogue around the issue of chemsex of the moment, much of it uninformed and, frankly, absolute bollocks. A play about chillouts at a fringe theatre behind a pub in Angel could have been shit, and I’m so, so glad it wasn’t. It was honest and true, verbatim theatre based on real experiences. Which is exactly the sort of contribution that’s needed to the chemsex debate. When the audience got up and left, I heard a girl criticising it for how it portrayed gay men; her friend said: “but that’s a totally accurate portrayal. That’s what actually happens.” She was shocked. But she also learned something very profound.

The play’s success is not just down to the script, but also the wonderful cast of five actors. They all represented very real characters you meet at these sort of parties; the hot young closeted Pakistani, the older HIV positive guy in a leather harness, the young twink always up dancing and performing, who gets a bit annoying after a while and you sort of wish he’d go home. That role was played by Elliot Hadley who, for me, was the play’s standout star; his relentless energy, and the accuracy with which he played being high on drugs was exhaustingly good and disarmingly on point. It brought back some memories of last weekend actually.


Anyway, great show all round boys. Go and see this play, it’s important and it’s good.


• 5 Guys Chillin’ runs from the 1st to the 24th October, Tickets from £15. King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, N1 1QN