F**king Men at Waterloo East Theatre

F**king Men is a play which looks at 10 erotic encounters between men. The play by Joe DiPietro first opened in 2009 but in this version he has modernised it so that it reflects today’s gay culture. With reference to gender identify, Grindr, PrEP and OnlyFans the update has been successful and the play fees very relevant.

Whilst all of the encounters portrayed revolve around sex many of them have a lot more at the heart of them. Themes such as power, grief, romance and the idea of monogamy are ones that are played out frequently, with the sex being a springboard for these conversations. Despite these strong themes the script never feels forced nor did it feel as if the audience were being asked to judge some of the choices made by the characters on stage, a decision I really liked.

The structure of the show is clever and throughout the piece you follow one of the characters from the previous vinaigrette into their next encounter until the show comes full circle at the end. This means you get to delve a little deeper into that characters psyche and learn a bit more about why they may have just behaved as they did. Throughout the show the audience is introduced to all walks of life, from a movie star and TV journalist through to an Only Fans creator and from a solider who has never been with a man before to an escort.

The actors portraying this multitude of characters are Alex Britt, Charlie Condou, Derek Mitchell and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge. Each of these actors succeeded in getting across the nuances of the many men that they had to portray and they were successful in ensuing that the audience knew that this was the arrival of a new character when needed. Condou was a prime example of this and utterly convinced me that at one moment he was an insecure man only going through with these encounters to keep up with his husband, in contrast to a self assured TV journalist hiding his grief from the outside world. They also succeed in bringing light relief to the show despite the heavier themes in particular, Mitchell’s portrayal of a struggling Playwright brought some levity to the piece in both of his scenes.

A special mention should go to Lee Crowley who was F**ing Men’s movement and intimacy director. Whilst there was a lot of nudity throughout the show it was skillful undertaken so that none of it felt gratuitous but equally it felt like this element was not shied away from, striking just the right tone and balance for this piece.

The set by Cara Evans was also well thought through. The back part of the stage compromised of a perspex screen with sections that could veer between transparent to let the audience see what was happening behind to opaque. This was used to good effect in the opening when we had all 4 actors on stage together with the screens swiftly changing. In front of the screens was a bed/sofa, which considering the number of sex scenes is probably no surprise however once again this was well used and it never felt like the bed was imposing onto the playing space.

F**king Men is a thought provoking yet unpretentious piece of theatre that brings gay erotic encounters right up to date whilst giving the audience plenty of food for thought.

F**king Men is playing at Waterloo East Theatre until 18th June. You can find out more and book tickets here.

If you like this review you might also like my review of My Son’s A Queer But What Can You Do, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Sister Act.

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