Boys in the Buff

16 Jul

BY Chris Burgess
At the Stockwell Playhouse
Well I found the Lost Theatre. Thank goodness, this is the last time I shall be able to do that joke. Because. Hurray, the name has been changed to Stockwell Playhouse – though it still says Lost Theatre on the door.
Anyway, The Stockwell Playhouse is a very well-equipped first floor theatre, with a lift from the ground floor box office up to the well-designed auditorium which allows good views from every seat. It also has studios up above the theatre for rehearsals. There is a bar which is a bit on the small side and the customers tend to hang about in the corridor, blocking the lift. It would be good if the bar area could be extended.
The current show is ‘Boys in the Buff (terrible title) a musical cabaret with four attractive young men and one divinely voluptuous young woman. This is just like a Windmill show in reverse, with the boys in an assortment of sexy and revealing costumes and the girl fully dressed throughout. The show is supposed to be about body image and there are many good jokes and witty lyrics about the subject but it is definitely aimed at the Pink Pound and most of the audience on press night was made up of men. Nothing wrong with trying to make money out of theatre – it doesn’t happen all that often. Nevertheless, there are songs dealing with plastic surgery, acne, the gymn, make up, acne, photoshops, narcissism, exhibitionism, size queens, and so on. Most interesting was the number about the kind of terrible bullying children put up with. Words like Spotty, Fatty, ginger and so on. These subjects are all vital and all useful.
The clever thing about the show is the casting and the differences between the personalities of the four men. There is Max (Adam O’Shea) an ex twenty stone weakling, who has dieted and exercised himself slim, fancies himself as an intellectual and does a musical version of To be or Not To be dressed as Marlene on a chair and performing exaggerated dancer moves throughout. Imagine Dietrich quoting Shakespeare and doing cartwheels. There is a gay man (Shaun Roddick) who had kept his secret for years before he came out and proud. Phil (Julian Quijano)is the shy one who is ashamed of showing his body but of course is brought round by the end, and there is the cocky (forgive the expression) and keen to display his body on every possible occasion. This is played by actor William Frazer.
All the boys cope well with Sam Rayner’s cheeky, Bob Fosse style choreography. Of course there are many references to The Full Monty – whether they actually do the full thing you will have to find out for yourself.
The script by Chris Burgess deals with body image and how it can obsess the ‘selfie’ mentality.
It was a happy, not at all intellectually demanding evening A kind of theatrical holiday enlightened on the Press Night by a performance from Tezza – a happily rotund member of the audience.

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