My Night With Reg is a comedy play about a group of gay men in the 1980’s who struggle with the death of their friends to the HIV virus. It premiered in 1994 at the Royal Court Theatre and most recently played a sold out run at the Donmar Warehouse. It is now playing a three month run at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End.
The cast of six were all strong actors and kept the audience engaged throughout. Matt Bardock played hard nosed cockney Benny well with a Phil Mitchell type persona that made you think he might throw you up against a wall at any moment. Jonathan Broadbent was adorable as geeky Guy who was unlucky in love and had spent the last fifteen years lusting over John. Jonathan reminded me of a hopeless Elton John, content and happy in his life whilst also being lost and lonely. Julian Ovenden played heart-throb John well with a Pierce Brosnan type persona, oozing sexuality. But it was Lewis Reeves who really stood out as young Eric, keeping the show together with comedy and a fresh faced look amongst the slightly middle aged cast.
My Night With Reg is just under two hours in length without an interval which actually goes by pretty quickly. The show is split into three different scenes, which if you know this before hand can help you pace how far through the story you are. Towards the end of the performance the audiences did get fidgety and tired with several loud yawns around me. I think an interval could have been nice but I understand that probably because there were three scenes in the play, it would have been difficult to split one between two acts without losing momentum.
The controversial topic this week has been about the London Underground banning the poster for this show, which shows a naked man holding a David Bowie LP and part of his buttocks exposed. Because of this I was keen to see how much nudity played a part in the show. There was just one scene where two of the characters are completely naked. This was rather pleasant on the eye but had no relevance to the story. I did feel it was included in the show just to pull in the crowds to watch the play but it worked and the audience was packed with 95% men.
My Night With Reg is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 11 April 2015. It’s a very good, funny play which paints the picture of promiscuous gay men in the mid 1980’s. Click here for tickets.
Reviewed by West End Wilma