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What Happened Last Night is... we saw a stinker!



Review by Paul Nelson

WHAT Happened Last Night? at the Pleasance Theatre in Holloway.

Well, I'll tell you what happened last night. I sat through a stinker of a play, and do I mean a stinker.

It's a gay play. Well, what new work on the fringe these years isn't? If I thought the play was queer, I cannot tell you about the audience.

The play purports to be a serious look at, among other things, murder, gay rape, gay love and child abuse.

In a five-a-side football team (now that's handy, you don't have to pay a full side of 11 team members to flash their flesh), Chris is unsure about his sexual orientation.

Kenny, on the other hand, has strong feelings for Chris. Both are butching it up in a butch environment. The jibes from the straight footballers always, they both make sure, fall on deaf ears.

Comes the time when they all go to Golds, a discotheque, most of the team chasing birds. Chris and Kenny go along with it, and Chris, for a bet, is challenged to perform oral sex on Kenny by Michael and Jerry, two flagrant homosexuals.

From here the play goes haywire.

Team member Tom is desperately trying to get his rocks off with Sarah, the half sister of two other girls. One of them, Jude, had been made pregnant by Tom, but the pregnancy had been aborted.

In an atmosphere of ecstasy, pot smoking and cocaine line drug taking the evening gets out of hand.

The taunted Chris is lured outside and double raped by Jerry and Michael. Whilst he is hardly conscious off stage, Tom, not averse to the odd popper or pill thrill, tries to grab Sarah and, I do not kid you, dies in the attempt.

The play now becomes a whodunit murder mystery.

Tom's last pill thrill was strychnine.

Chief murder suspect is Sarah. While we wind around the police investigations, Chris, naturally shy about admitting he was shagged in the alley by two screamers, finally breaks and tells the whole of his side of the story, which seems to me to be irrelevant regarding the police investigations, but of some slight importance to the gay theme of the play.

Another member of the football team is an exterminator, and has stocks of rat poison, one of these poisons being strychnine. At this point the plot, as with the effect of warfarin on the blood, begins to thin.

It turns out that Chris admits he is gay, Kenny admits he is in love with him, though this takes a bit of friendly persuasion, and the team coach, oops, I didn't tell you about the team coach did I, so I'll reel back a bit.

The team coach is all hard muscle and discipline. When he finds out his son, Chris, is gay, and almost immediately that Kenny is too, he rages and cannot stand that sort of thing. He gets drunk. Leather hands come from behind him and strangle him, and it is out and out gay Michael (gosh) who intones over the body of 'uncle' Coach Gordon, who it turns out, had meddled with Michael when Michael was a boy and caused him to be queer too.

What a blow!

This preposterous nonsense, in the guise of a serious play, is played by a cast who mainly should first apply theatre technique number one, audibility. Come on, the Pleasance is not the Coliseum.

In fact, Tara has a voice that makes Minnie Mouse sound like a basso profundo and I suspect only dogs can hear really hear it.

The author has cast himself in the lead. He, too, is quietly going about his business. To put the kibosh on the entire proceedings the director really ought to get a proper job.

It has been a long time since I was in a theatre watching a supposedly serious play when the audience hooted with laughter. Perhaps that is the clue. The cast should play it for laughs.

There are some decent performances, however, and it would be churlish of me not to mention Stuart Muirs, Giles Anderson, Rod Hunt, Ian Brandon and Andi Osho. As I hand out these bouquets, I have to also extend my sympathy to them.

Perhaps the last word should go to a colleague. He can't wait for the musical version.

What Happened Last Night? by Warren Bacci, Directed by Elgiva Field, Designed by Rosemary Flegg, Lighting Design by James Field, WITH: Warren Bacci (Chris Jackson), Natalie Hobday (Inspector Williams/Bar Girl), Nina Lacelle (Sarah Collins), Benjamin Stanley (Les/Sergeant Stuart), Ian Brandon (Kenny), Giles Alderson (Tom Greenwell), Rod Hunt (Jim Harding), Stuart Muirs (Coach Gordon), Ide Chaihemen (Jude Barker), Andi Osho (Kelly Barker), Adam Lee (Michael Walker), Charlotte Bacon (Tara), James Austin Harvey (Jerry Redgrave). Produced by Warren Bacci, Ivan Hughes & Jeremy Stoney-Walker. Presented by WB Productions in Association with Guy Chapman Associates at The Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Road, London N7. Tickets 020 7609 1800

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