Tell Me Straight at the King’s Head Theatre

‘Tell Me Straight’ running at King’s Head Theatre 17-21 August 2021. George Greenland and Paul Bradshaw pictured from left to right

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Presented by Gartland Productions and written by Paul Bradshaw, ‘Tell Me Straight’ is a funny, honest and intimate one act play. In addition to writing the show Bradshaw also plays our central character, a gay man who seems to be irresistible to straight men wanting to experiment.

“… It’s like I’m a beacon. Some gay lighthouse on the curious shoreline and these straights squint from the distant sea and drift towards me”

Bradshaw is one of those talented comic writers who make it all seem so effortless, and that natural sense of humour also makes his performance a delight to watch.There is a natural fluency to Bradshaw’s words and performance that are profoundly engaging. I couldn’t help wanting things to work out for him even as he kept repeating the same mistakes again and again. The self-deprecating delivery leads to many laugh out loud moments, particularly with some fourth wall breaching knowing asides. This is an emotionally charged piece that is full of humour. Will he ever break his self-destructive straight guy cycle?

George Greenland is a chameleon as the many different men in His life: the childhood friend, the cinema loving friend who gets sexually curious when the lights go down, the guy he meets at an audition, monopoly party man and others. While there is a running joke that our protagonist has a certain physical type, Greenland takes on the challenge of changing characters as quickly as changing his shirt with great skill. I never felt lost in terms of who he was, even during the quickest of character changes.

While never on stage, Stephanie Levi-John adds to the humour of the show as the voice of Dani, His friend who leaves him voice notes berating him for his fixation with straight dick. She wants him to find himself a gay boy he can have a real relationship with, and stop being at the mercy of straight men using him to satisfy their own sexual curiosity.

Imogen Hudson-Clayton’s direction beautifully brings out the fluidity of the piece, as we flow quickly from scene to scene at a pace that fits the humorous narrative tone. There is a deceptive simplicity to how the play is realised, that reinforces the natural intimacy of the story being shared. There are no unnecessary barriers put up between the audience and our storytelling hero, ensuring we feel as if we have been fully invited into his world.

‘Tell Me Straight’ runs at the King’s Head Theatre until 21st August as part of their Queer Season. You can find out more or book here: https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/queer-season-tell-me-straight

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