Review by Emma Whitelaw
RELATIONSHIP or relation-shit? Just where does one draw the line
between pleasure and pain? And can sex ever be 'just sex'?
Jonathan Hall’s Hardcore, currently showing
at the Pleasance Theatre, is a bold exploration
into the world of British porn and the relationships of those
In any world there is a general sociological hierarchy. In that
of the Brit porn industry, we find the same.
There are the 'experienced' actors, who are hard and cynical.
Nothing stands in their way as they are already on top.
There are the inexperienced, yet very willing new recruits, who
are bored and want to spice up their lives, or perhaps they want
to kick-start their career. And then there are those that are
looking for love – in all the wrong places!
The show begins with an audition for a brand spanking (being
the operative word) new dick flick. The lads are all quizzed on
various things, ranging from their background to their most arousing
Having already been dubbed 'most promising newcomer' at the Stiffies,
the Gay erotic Oscars, Craig, played by the stunning Luke Evans,
is an old hat of the industry.
His experience has taught him to be cold when it comes to any
form of intimacy. He claims he is able to compartmentalize his
relationships with on and off-screen lovers. For him, sex is about
'excitement – energy… no complications. No shit'.
Enter Martin, played by the incredibly talented Phil Matthews,
the yin to Craig’s yang.
Martin is in no doubt a shameless romantic. He is new to London,
new to gay porn. To Martin, it is an opportunity to become infamous,
but, hey, if he finds 'Mr Right' along the way, then that’s
an extra added bonus.
Martin is sweet, slightly naive, yet he has a wickedly devilish
side. He has a fabulous sense of humour and is ever the optimist.
The gorgeous Simon Thomas plays the
lovable 'red blooded straight guy', Kevin, a budding actor, who
believes this film is just the kick along his career needs.
It will not only demonstrate his prowess as an actor, it will
also show off his dramatic versatility. After all, 'a straight
man in a gay film, what could be more versatile than that?'
Thomas is absolutely hilarious and he had the audience in stitches.
In my opinion, his gay denial stole the show!
Last, but certainly not least, is the sweetly innocent, Robert.
Played by Christopher Redmond, he is childlike and tied to an
older man of whom he yearns to break free.
Robert has decided to do the film as a way of spicing up his
life. His boyfriend is almost 30 years his senior and although
he is very loyal he longs for a life of glamour and fame.
When they all first meet at the auditions for 'Hot Shooting Guys
II', the sexual tension between Craig and Martin is explosive.
They both act very nonchalant, as though there is absolutely
no attraction, but anyone with eyes could see straight through
it. After a while, they inevitably end up spending the night together.
This causes all sorts of complications on set.
Craig is not the sort to sleep with someone more than once and
the script dictates that they must again share a bed.
Martin, however, feels the film shoot is an opportunity to win
Craig’s fading interest. It is a turning point for both
For Craig, the situation opens up too many old wounds and he
freaks out and leaves. The thought of attachment scares him to
death and he isn’t about to let someone back into his scarred
For Martin, the brutal treatment he receives changes him inside.
He becomes cold, heartless and an egotistical exhibitionist; much
like the man that left him for dead.
Hardcore is extremely well-written, full of comic genius
and tremendously thought-provoking.
It is a poignant exploration into a previously unknown world.
It’s an exposé of just what goes on behind the scenes.
And it has a good laugh about it along with eye candy galore!
Hardcore by Jonathan Hall. Directed by Russell Labey.
Starring Luke Evans, Simon Thomas, Christopher Redmond and Phil
Matthews. 29 June to 31 July at Pleasance Theatre, North Road,
Islington. Box Office 020 7609 1800.
Photo kindly supplied by: Robert Workman