Graphic, gripping, frank, funny, and confronting are words being bandied around about 5 Guys Chillin’. Graphic and frank, sure, but the rest? Not as gripping as all that. This navel-gazing play by Peter Darney about the gay chemsex chill-out scene was at times intense but also self-indulgent and not particularly shocking.
Set in London, which has the dubious distinction of being the chemsex capital of the world, five blokes get high and get it on and anecdotes from their collective histories of hooking up come out. Some of the stories amuse, some evoke sympathy, others are meant to shock.
The problem with this verbatim drama is the lacklustre impetus which continually gets waylaid as the disclosures from each make the narrative seem too clunky and contrived and the urgency of the stories became sluggish. Darney weaved the story out of real conversations, but the story has a cobbled together feel that needs more editing for greater dramatic effect.
Strong performances across the board, though chemistry was a bit hit and miss. Highlights? John Michael Burdon was magnetic, even if his outfit looked as though he re-purposed it from his stint as Falstaff in the regrettable Superhal earlier this year.
Still, a good show to kick off the Queer Fringe at the New Theatre, which runs from 12 – 23 September.
5 Guys Chillin’ is on at the New Theatre as a part of the Sydney Fringe Festival’s Queer Fringe, 12-16 Sept, for more information and tickets see: https://newtheatre.org.au/queer-fringe-the-new/
Featuring: John Michael Burdon, Tom Christophersen, Stevie Haimes, Will Reilly and Tim de Sousa.
Creative Team: Peter Darney (writer), Patrick Howard (director) and Tom Bannerman (set design).