Theatre

Fucking Men @ Finborough Theatre, London



cast list
Scott Capurro
Guy Fearon
Morgan James
Nicholas Keith
James Kristian
Timothy Lone
Shai Metuki
Chris Polick
Patrick Poletti
Adam Unze

directed by
Phil Willmott
I saw a stage version of Schnitzler’s Reigen – more commonly know by its French title, La Ronde – a few years ago. Given my poor command of German I struggled to grasp all that was being said, but in spite of this, the play seemed a relatively straight forward affair.

A has an intimate encounter with B, B then has one with C, C with D, and so on until J crosses paths with A. Watching this updated version, however, and understanding it much better, I realised how incredibly complex a drama it is, anything but straight forward.

Following his hit, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, Joe Di Pietro’s Fucking Men is an update of La Ronde, that places the action in present day America. The big twist, however, is that all the protagonists are now men, making this play a study of homosexual relationships. But in spite of the title – presumably designed to shock (and sell tickets) – the one thing we never see is the sexual act. We see the before and after, and it is the tensions and negotiations experienced here that alert us to the aspirations and fears as well as the complexities and sensitivities, of the characters involved.

Di Pietro builds on the original by breaking away from the linear ‘A meets B, B meets C’ and so on. For example, whilst the first scene is taking place between the Escort and Soldier, the College Kid is also seen on stage surfing the net, as if overseeing this encounter or the infinite number like it. Similarly, when the College Kid meets the Graduate Student it transpires that they have both met the Soldier who frequents the local sauna, and every now and then a protagonist repeats a line that they delivered earlier to reveal their needs as a constant in an ever changing world.

The interest was generated by the differing angles that each protagonist came from. In particular, those characters whom we assumed would be the deepest often turned out to be the most fickle, and vice versa. Indeed, arguably the best scene was that between the Playwright (Scott Capurro) and Porn Star (Adam Unze), partly because it was brilliantly acted, but also because we saw such contrasting characters. Initially appearing deep, the Playwright’s assertion that he shuns the limelight in order to write what he wants, is subsequently undermined by his eagerness to sell out for fame. Conversely, the Porn Star speaks candidly of his role in films, but then reveals his sensitivity in desiring someone to truly love, and ensuring that when he sleeps with ‘The Other Married Guy’ he won’t be ruining the eleven year long relationship that that man is in.

We similarly see an Actor prepared to sacrifice his career by making his homosexuality public, an Escort willing to look beyond the violence of one of his clients to see the man beneath who really cares, and the Married Guys, whom, despite their frequent lying to each other, ultimately (we suspect) enjoy a strong bond.

The Finborough’s small stage had been atmospherically decorated, its walls covered with luminous patterns of squares that signified tower block windows or balconies, where encounters might take place. It reminded me of Edward Hopper paintings where once again we never see any key event, but are led to suspect that one is about to happen or has already passed.

The only sad point was the summation that ‘everyone always finds someone else’. Of course, the play needed a conclusion, and this seemed a reasonable one to reach, based on the drama that had gone before. But, having just witnessed such a complex web of relationships, it seemed reductionist to conclude with any one overarching comment. However, this conclusion may have been making a point in its own right for it says nothing about the varying levels of ease with which different people find the next person. Towards the start, the one ‘couple’ who never quite get it together are the Soldier and Graduate Student and as the drama comes full circle, the chain once again stops with the Soldier. Put like this, perhaps the comment is ultimately an expression of how everyone is different, after all.



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