‘Guy’ is a sharp, funny and shamelessly honest work of gay musical satire. Technically minimal and understated, this four-person cast production more than makes up for its simple production with a foray of camped-up extravagant and flamboyant music and dance numbers that have you grinning from ear to ear. The performances from all four actors, Sean Miley-Moore, Adam Braidley, Steve Banks and Brendan Matthew, are electric, entertaining and sincere. Perhaps for the joy alone of having the exuberant Steve Banks come sit on my knee again on the front row, I would more than happily sit through a repeat 90 minutes. Wonderfully composed, choreographed and performed ‘Guy’ exceeds all expectations.
Although fiercely entertaining, the premise of the play has rather serious undertones. ‘Guy’ explores the diverse struggles of body image pervading modern gay-male dating. Guy is an overweight graphic designer struggling to find love in a world of self-obsessed, super-fit gym-goers. But as his story develops he discovers that he is the victim of his own prejudices and that his own body insecurities exist in a variety of different forms amongst the twinks, jocks and bears he so envies. His inability to believe in his self-worth in a world that he sees as nothing but superficial sends Guy into a self-destructive spiral causing hurt to everyone he loves.
The low key set design and production enables a particularly intimate viewing experience and one can’t help but build emotional attachments to all four of the troubled characters on stage and feel some affinity with their own personal struggles. The references to Manchester’s gay village and its well-known bars and clubs, particularly whilst watching the play in Manchester, makes the narrative all the more familiar.
The music has a futurist pop feel, clearly heavily inspired by the contemporary sounds of A. G. Cook’s experimental London record label, PC Music. And in many ways the performance itself, although often satisfyingly crass and clichéed, feels quite experimental. This is early days for Leo Mercer and Stephen Hyde, the writers behind this production, and they are surely ones to watch as their style finds its feet in Manchester’s dynamic theatre scene.
Reviewer - Oscar Lister
on - 11/7/18