WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHERE? Trafalgar Studios 2 RUN TIME: 115 minutes (including interval)
WHEN?: 9/1/19, press night 11/1 runs to 2/2/19
Coming Clean is the 1st play by author Kevin Elyot who is probably best known for My Night With Reg which won many awards including the 1995 Olivier for Best Comedy.
- Read on for reasons including how actor Elyot was encouraged to write his 1st play at Bush Theatre
Elyot began his theatre career as an actor in the 70s at the Bush Theatre with the company Gay Sweatshop. The theatre’s artistic team encouraged him to submit his 1st play to it and Cosy was renamed Coming Clean.
It was staged at the Bush Theatre in 1982 and is the story of couple Tony and Greg who are celebrating their 5th anniversary yet allow each other one-night stands outside their relationship as long as it’s a one-off and is away from the north London flat they share together.
The action tales place in that flat as struggling writer Tony (an engaging Lee Knight) and more successful American Greg (an uptight Stanton Plummer-Cambridge) entertain friend and neighbour William (camp Elliot Hadley is hilarious and the best reason to see this) and decide to take on cleaner Robert (Tom Lambert in a memorable West End debut).
This production ran originally at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre and director Adam Spreadbury-Maher has re-imagined a comedy which remains very much pre-AIDS, works well in this intimate setting and still asks questions about relationships that are pertinent today.
We’re here at this 1st preview because we wished we’d seen My Night With Reg and want to get a sense of what the fuss surrounding Elyot, who died aged just 62 in 2014, was all about.
Pre-Grindr it does offer an insight into cottaging, nightlife and what could happen when things go wrong as well as offering an authentic voice about how much fun life could also be then.
Coming Clean is far from a masterpiece but could provoke Joe Orton comparisons and certainly has enough about it to suggest Elyot would go on to far greater things.
If you would like to be transported back to gay life in London almost 40 years ago and ponder the questions it raises that are as relevant today, Trafalgar Studios 2 until 2 February is worth a visit.