F**king Men
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Waterloo East Theatre, London
Cast: Joe Bishop, Rory Connolly, Jason Eddy and David Michaels

This dramatic comedy follows ten men through a series of erotic encounters that change their lives in small but significant ways. In a raw and updated new version for 2024, Tony-winning writer Joe DiPietro takes a sharp and insightful look at the experiences of modern gay men as they navigate their conflicting desires for the comfort of monogamous love and the thrill of sexual freedom.

Joe DiPietro
's 90 minute play has returned for a 6 week only run at London's Waterloo East Theatre. Before I start the review, it's worth mentioning that this is an erotic play that contains sex and nudity. If you're not comfortable with scenes of a sexual nature, this may not be the show for you - but I'd strongly encourage you to try it and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

This is my first time experiencing a play like this and I am truly amazed by the four incredible actors who are able to take to the stage and expose themselves through an act that we are so used to being both private and intimate. Although the sex scenes were at times both aggressive and passionate, the movement and intimacy direction from Lee Crowley made the scenes come across as comfortable as possible, even elegant at times. In such a small space, it would be easy to come across as awkward and embarrassing, but this is not the case. I applaud these four talented actors for being able to do scenes such as these to an intimate audience.

The staging by Cara Evans, is very simple but effective. It consists of a six-panel wall structure which starts off clear in colour, but throughout the evening, the panels are used as doors and to highlight certain scenes. The round bed-like piece of furniture which the actors use frequently is simple but it works for what this play needs. The soundtrack is great and as a massive Jake Shears fan, the choice of Scissor Sisters was the perfect touch.

In a play that focuses heavily on gay sex, it highlights how things have changed over the years which have affected the lives of men when it comes to gay sex; from development of effective HIV medications and the introduction of PrEP (which I must I admit, I had very little knowledge of before this play).

The four actors take on different roles throughout the piece. Joe Bishop plays Marco/Sammy, Rory Connolly plays John/Kyle/Ryan, Jason Eddy plays Steve/Jack/Brandon and David Michaels plays Leo/Donald. All these characters are in different places, especially in terms of their sexuality. Some claim they are just experimenting, whilst others wholeheartedly embrace their sexual identity. For me, Joe Bishop stood out as he was quite mesmerizing in the way he carried himself on stage and the characters he brought to life.

The plot follows many character's journeys such as a marine who insists he is not gay despite paying for a sex act from a male sex worker. We also have a tutor who is seduced by his student after his recent break up and a married couple who explore non-monogamy. It's very interesting to see how this story unfolds. The last story is based around a closeted actor who is outed to the press, which brings up important conversations around actors who've had to hide their sexuality to get the "conventionally straight male roles".

I did enjoy how this play ends; it comes full circle - we started with the marine and the sex worker, and that's how it ends. However, in a much happier place than when it started. Considering I'm not the target audience for this play, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the topics it had to offer. It was witty, laugh-out-loud, heartfelt and knowledgeable. 

You can book tickets to see F**king Men at Waterloo East Theatre, here.

Review by Sarah

**photo credit: Michaela Walshe**

No comments