BWW Review: 5 GUYS CHILLIN', King's Head Theatre

BWW Review: 5 GUYS CHILLIN', King's Head Theatre

BWW Review: 5 GUYS CHILLIN', King's Head TheatrePeter Darney brings back his disturbingly honest and deeply affecting 5 Guys Chillin' to King's Head Theatre. After an original run in 2005, the show has touched audiences at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, and the SoHo Playhouse in New York.

The play digs into the consequences of ChemSex in the gay community, with Darney interviewing real consumers and effectively sharing their words verbatim.

During a "chill-out party", five men (interpreted by Gareth Watkins, David Palmstrom, George Fletcher, George Bull and Tom Ratcliffe) candidly discuss sex, their lifestyles, homosexuality, drug abuse, HIV and STDs in a breezy tone that can quickly shift to chilling revelations.

Sex plays a huge role in Darney's production, and its relation to drugs is graphically exposed. Under the influence, the characters strip off the pretences that the world has placed on them, making their insecurities and blurred pasts emerge in raw and blunt performances by the five actors.

Among the retellings of their first parties and how they contracted undetectable HIV or turned down partners who wanted "sober dates", the characters engage in a symphony of bodies. Darney's brash attitude in showing the male body and representing homosexuality is what makes the piece extraordinarily vivid.

While he definitely sexualises his actors' bodies, his direction is both emotionally genuine and dynamic, placing the characters in constant movement. The use of diegetic music is a steady accompaniment to the bubbly and provocative script.

The documentary feeling of the play blurs the lines between theatre and reality, culminating with the actors simply slowing down their actions to mere lazy hints, and remaining on the stage as the audience leaves. It emphasises that Darney has purpose in sharing these stories, aiming to grab people's attention and provoke debate.

This poignant, thought-provoking piece of theatre is a valuable chance to open that dialogue on an overlooked issue. Darney creates the perfect forum for that, and succeeds in evoking a world world in this limited space.

5 Guys Chillin' runs at King's Head Theatre until 3 June.

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From This Author Cindy Marcolina

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