Identifying and sympathizing with all the characters in a play is either a sign of a well-lived life or the true genius of a playwright. On my journey home from the Donmar Warehouse, I too felt like I’d been used, abused and ultimately seduced by ‘My Night with Reg’.
Six men, all sexually attracted to other men, in one London flat, over the course of a few years. Five ‘friends’ who hardly know their true selves, never mind each other. Ok, we’ve all been there – a ‘Guy’ (Jonathan Broadbent) the harbor in heartbreak, the confessional for all their sins or the convenient companionship between relationships. We’ve all had our ‘John’ (Julien Ovenden) moments of madness, where alcohol fuelled passion blinds and leads us down the one night cul-de-sac of ‘fun’ – for them, without an ounce of guilt towards their long-suffering ‘open relationships’. Then the inquisitive innocence of the eighteen year old ‘Eric’ (Lewis Reeves) wanting to experiment, exchanging virginity for the possibility of everlasting love, only to wake up to the realization that you’re nothing more than yet another, one night stand. And finally the stereotypical ‘couple’ that can’t live with or without each other, whose sexual gratification is never fulfilled, and open to secret encounters.
Originally set in the 1980's, this production dissolves the decades by fusing fashion and refurbishing retro, which resonates its nature and ultimate lesson, to all generations. Even before the Grinding and Gay-daring, the promiscuous and playful, couldn’t-give-a-damn, attitude of what-you-want-when-you-want-it, was conveniently and ignorantly embraced. The 80’s became the new 60’s, and in many ways, still is. Who’s right or wrong here? Who earns most respect? Who is the happiest, and why?
Under a less experienced, insensitive directorial leadership, or with a self-obsessed, ignorant cast, these colorful and comical camp characters could turn this true-to-nature play into a pink pounding pantomime. But the respect and dignified personal experience portrayed, lifts this moral tale of our times, to memorable and emotional heights.
Everyone will react differently, depending on his or her current situation and state of mind, but Kevin Elyot’s masterpiece of men’s minds raises many questions, which only we can answer.