REVIEW: Grindr The Opera! (Above The Stag Theatre) ★★★★
Grindr the Opera – An Unauthorised Parody is Erik Ransom’s ingenious look at the impact Grindr has had on relationships within the gay community, touching on issues of fidelity and sexual health. With witty lyrics and relatable characters, Ransom unashamedly strips bare the realities of dating in the modern age.
As the show begins, out of the darkness steps Grindr (Christian Lunn), a feathered, heeled Tim Curry type who navigates the eponymous opening number with effortless vocal gymnastics. The character of Grindr is shown as a sentient and ever-present figure within the show, highlighting the app’s ability to take over our lives. We watch as Grindr, along side Occulto (Tom Blackmore) and Dilectus (Robby Khela), acts as a puppet master in the lives of four gay men, bringing them together and ruthlessly tearing them apart.
The other four main cast are introduced in phone shaped boxes, acting as their Grindr profiles. It is only when they step outside of their profiles that these men become fully developed characters.
The charming David Malcolm plays Devon, a doctor and hopeless romantic who joins Grindr hoping to hookup after a bad breakup. He finds his Mister Right in Tom (Matthew Grove) after their one night stand develops into a relationship. The pair have wonderful chemistry from their first meeting on stage as they perform the endearing song ‘If You Leave’.
Jack, played by William Spencer, is a confident party boy who uses the app purely for hookups. Spencer expertly plays on the modern caricature of the twink resulting in much hilarity. We watch as Jack decides to hookup with Don (Derek Walker), a closeted self-described Brexit voting Tory. Walker plays well on the humour of his character, but really shines when demonstrating Don’s shame and self-loathing which makes for harrowing viewing, particularly during the song ‘A Man Like You’.
The show reaches its climax as the four main cast come together at a restaurant resulting in a farcical dinner, orchestrated by Grindr, that alters the relationships of the characters forever.
Ransom’s score is wide ranging in musical styles, heart-felt and funny. Directed by Andrew Beckett, with musical staging by Carole Todd, the show is well put together in such an intimate space. Ransom was absolutely right when he thought that Grindr would be the perfect topic for an opera. With its melodrama, romance and tragedy, Grindr the Opera – An Unauthorised Parody is the perfect show to see this pride season at the Above The Stag Theatre.
Reviewed by Ben McDonald
Photo: PBG Studios