22nd Sep2017

Holding the Man (Theatre)

by timbaros

stag watermark holding the man4“Holding the Man” is a show that will rip your heart out and reduce you to tears.

Now playing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall, it’s true story of two Australian men, Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo, who fall in love in the late 1970’s, who have their ups and downs during the 1980’s, and who both are diagnosed with the HIV virus and must deal with not only death knocking on their door but also the shortened time they have to be together. The show is based on the 1995 book by Conigrave, and was written by Tommy Murphy. Most of you might have already seen the excellent 2015 film, or previous London productions (including the 2010 production at Trafalgar Studios). The Above the Stage production is just as hard-hitting.

It’s the storytelling and the extremely strong performances of the cast at the Above the Stag that rate this production five stars. Jamie Barnard is excellent as Conigrave while Ben Boskovic as Caleo eerily captures his quietness and reserve. Both actors bring to this production a strength and resolute to their roles that they are almost living out these characters lives right in front of us. From the beginning of the show, we can feel that these two men were meant to be together. But this being the early 80’s, not much was known about HIV, so unfortunately, and I’m not giving anything away here because it’s a well-known story, AIDS was to rear it’s ugly head directly at these two young, beautiful men.

“Holding the Man” takes us on a heart stopping and heartbreaking journey while we travel with them in their relationship with each other in life, and in death. And it’s Barnard and Boskovic who take us on this remarkable journey. Joshua Cole as a best friend of the two men provide welcome comic relief in a show that’s very serious: he’s charming and has the best lines in the play. Faye Wilson adds some much needed sparkle as another one of the boys friends, while Liam Burke, Annabel Pemberton, and Robert Thompson round out the ensemble in various roles as parents, friends and fellow students. One scene that includes the whole cast is a hilarious masturbation scene that’s cleverly done and something I’ve never seen on stage before.

But’s is the relationship between these two men that is at the heart and soul of this show. Director Gene David Kirk keeps the drama up and running while designer David Shields provides an excellent minimalist backdrop so the audience can focus on the story, and acting, unfolding right before our very eyes..Kudos to Above the Stag Theatre for producing a serious, dramatic and extremely well-acted show that’s a welcome relief from their previous camp and silly previous productions. Categorise “Holding the Man” as a must see!

For tickets, please go to:

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14th May2017

When Harry Met Barry (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_0073n3It’s not When Harry met Sally but When Harry Met Barry at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Unfortunately there is no orgasm scene in sight, just a few catchy tunes and a few laughs in a show that is cute and lively and a fun night out.

Harry (Brandon Gale) and Barry (Sam Peggs) had a ‘thing’ seven years ago, but now TV chef Harry is dating fashion designer Spencer (Austin Garrett) while junior lawyer Barry has hooked up with the quirky yet adorable Alice (Maddy Banks). Spencer and Alice are serious about their relationships with Barry and Harry, respectively, even to go so far as to discuss wedding plans! Gads! But when Harry and Barry accidentally bump into each other, their love and desire for each other is rekindled, enough so that it causes a whole heep of heartache and a breakdown in their current relationships. Set to trendy and memorable musical numbers – very modern and hummable with ‘Why Ask for the Moon’ one of the better songs – When Harry met Barry is a true musical romance with a love triangle that will set your heart aflutter. All adequately sung and acted by the very young cast, with Banks doing a particularly good job in her role as the jilted young woman. It’s got cute music, a goodlooking and energetic cast, and one all too brief scene of two of the sexy actors in their underwear. It looks like Above the Stag theatre has another hit on their hands.

To buy tickets, please go here:

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14th Mar2017

Southern Baptist Sissies (Theatre)

by timbaros

stag watermark sissies6There’s something in the holy water at a Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas because all of the boys there are gay. And they’re not the only ones who have a story to tell. It all unravels in Southern Baptist Sissies, the new show at Above the Stage Theatre.

Southern Baptist Sissies is actually two shows in one. Four boys live in a religious community where they spend their days praying and the rest of the time all they can think about are other boys! Then in a very hilarious, emotional and witty way, we see these boys grow up to become young men, full of passion, love and in one case, regret. Separately there are scenes set in a gay drag bar where two barflies have a conversation about their lives, their adventures and their regrets while the young men from the church segments portray other characters in the bar. It’s genius!!!

stag watermark sissies4

Southern Baptist Sissies cleverly intertwines both stories while we get to know a bit about each character. Mark (Jason Kirk) does an outstanding job as the narrator who is also in love with the very sexy and muscular TJ (Daniel Klemens), whose other character is a sexy go go boy in the gay drag bar. James Phoon is a revelation as Benny, the most feminine of the boys, yet as alter ego Miss Iona Taylor, he’s the star of the show at the drag bar. The scene where’s he’s disrobing while pouring his heart out is absolutely stunning. And last but not least there is Andrew (Hugh O’Donnell), a sensitive young man who unfortunately has a very disapproving mother (Janet Prince). Don Cotter (as Preston) and Julie Ross (as Odette) are brilliant as the couple who exchange stories at the bar; two older people looking back at the past while contemplating what’s left of their future, with Preston always ogling the young men in the bar. It’s all fantastically put together in a fab script by Del Shores and superb direction by Gene David Kirk.

After a few mediocre shows, Above the Stag has really upped their game with this show. It’s funny, relevant, emotional and at the end literally had the audience in tears. There are still tickets left for a few performances – BOOK THEM NOW – it’s a show you definitely don’t want to miss! If, and when, this show sells out, hopefully Above the Stag will be able to re-stage it when they move to a larger venue just down the road. More people really need to see this show.

For tickets, please go to:

http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/

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14th Sep2016

Party (Theatre)

by timbaros

14bfb5b1943a5c0d1ca5e35adbe44c72There’s a party going on in Vauxhall and you’re all invited!

‘Party,’ a play at the Above the Stag theatre, is about seven gay men who get together one evening to hang out, chat, be together, and basically talk about sex, as gay men do! And what a party it is! It involves alcohol, lots of alcohol, where seven handsome and hunky guys pretty much up for anything, play a game called Fact or Fantasy, a bit like Truth or Date, which involves, of course, male nudity – all taking place in a cozy living room.

‘Party, ’written by David Dillon in 1992, originally ran in Chicago before moving to New York, and has even been produced internationally. For this version, directed by Gene David Kirk, the party, and action, takes place in a British man’s living room, with references to British culture, news, and the requisite British accents! It’s the home of Kevin (Nic Kyle), who is letting out his extra bedroom to Peter (Stefan Gough). In attendance at the party are dancer Brian (Jamie Firth), teacher Ray (Ben Kavanagh), Philip (Lucas Livesy), James (Sam Goodchild) and young and innocent Andy (Tom Leach). They’re all friends, good friends, but when they decide to play Fact or Fiction, a game where one man is to tell the truth, lie, or act out someone else’s fantasy, secrets are revealed, as well as skin, lots of skin, in a game where being shy is not an option! And it’s Ray who steals the show with best lines – he actually berates Andy for not knowing who ‘Barbra’ is or how to tell the difference between a cast album and a soundtrack. Peter reveals, during the game, that he’s got a secret crush with one of the men, while Brian is sexy and he knows it, and is the first to strip off. It’s a party in this intimate theatre where the audience feels like they’re right in the middle.

‘Party’ is 100 minutes of very funny jokes, lively atmosphere, and laugh out loud comedy. It’s play which celebrates gay men who enjoy the company of other gay men, sexual attraction or not. And all the actors deserve praise, and courage, for baring it all – it’s exciting and done in good taste. This is one party you definitely don’t want to miss. Buy your tickets now as Above the Stag has just announced a three week extension to the show, which will now run until October 30th.

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30th Jun2016

Get ‘Em Off (Theatre)

by timbaros

91fcb92abe00587dbdff24216fe17eddThe Full Monty is now playing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Well, it’s not exactly The Full Monty – it’s called ‘Get ‘Em Off!’ Set in the suburbian enclave of Croydon, ‘Get ‘Em Off’ takes place in the only gay bar around for miles – The Golden Canary – and it’s a dive. Run by proprietor/proprietress Quinny, a/k/a Baz (Dereck Walker), it’s a bar that needs some spicing up. So it’s his employee Mitch (Joe Goldie) who comes up with the idea of turning Monday night into a gay strip competition to bring in more customers. And so that’s what they do. And they encourage their customers to enter in the hopes of winning the cash prize. Milosh (Michael Nelson), from Kosovo, is one of the first ones to enter, he’s definitely not shy about showing his body. Then there’s Ricky (Ashley Daniels), who is a regular customer to the bar when his boring partner (David Michael Hands) is out of town on business and who actually forbids Ricky from going to the gay bar as he doesn’t think they should lead ’that kind of lifestyle.’ But there’s a spark between Milosh and Ricky that’s palpable.

Meanwhile back at the bar, Baz, all dolled up in sequins and a head wrap, hosts the competition. Mitch urges his all so sexy and very hot straight friend Luke (Tom Bowen) to enter, hey Luke’s wife is about to give birth to their first child so he says why not? And it’s poor Brian (Stuart Harris), Mitch’s school teacher, newly single after six years, trying to find his way back into the gay scene, and finds himself at The Golden Canary. With the strip competition such a success, Quinny decides to enter her men in a national strip competition. So ‘Get Em Off’ follows The Full Monty’s plot where the men practice and practice for the competition where we all know what’s going to happen.

‘Get Em Off’ should’ve been called ‘The Gay Full Monty.’ It’s a camp musical comedy with very funny lines but not very funny nor memorable songs (one is titled ‘Get Your Dick Out), and there’s a waxing scenes that’s a bit dreadful. The book, by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, gives Quinny some of the best lines in the show, though Milosh and Mitch have some as well. Walker steals the show even when his/her men get naked – he’s hilarious! Hands also deserves a mention as he plays various roles and is unrecognizable in each one of them. ‘Get Em Off’ is not the best show the Above the Stag has produced, but it’s perhaps perfect for the summer season when all gay boys want to do is see to watch light-hearted fare with cute guys and lots of nudity. This is the show for them.

To purchase tickets, please click:

Get ‘Em Off!

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16th Apr2016

Haram Iran (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_4171nAbove the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall presents a show about the murder of two young men in Iran

Two young men were publicly hanged in a square in Mashhad, Iran on 19th July 2005. The new play ‘Haram Iran’ tells this horrific story.

Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari were both teenage boys who liked to hang out together. But it was suspected that these two young men had a homosexual affair, though the true nature of their crime had never actually been confirmed. But they were publicly executed after being convicted on the trumped up charges of raping a 13-year old boy. The Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall has produced a play that re-enacts and tries to give credence and understanding to the story of these two young men, and their lives, and their execution. It’s an amazing and relevant play.

Ayaz (Viraj Juneja) and Mahmoud (Andrei Costin) play ball, study together and hang out at Ayaz’s house. They’re fast becoming good friends, enough so that it makes Fareed (Merch Husey) jealous. Mahmoud spends a lot of time at Ayaz’s house, in his bedroom, just hanging out. Ayaz is obsessed with books, books that his mother (Silvana Malmone) has illegally kept as she’s not allowed to have them because of Sharia law. Ayaz is most enraptured by The Catcher in the Rye, and he reads passages of the book to Mahmoud. Some of the passages are sexual, making the young men a bit turned on. One day Ayaz notices huge marks on Mahmoud’s back, caused by whippings inflicted on him by his father. Ayaz rubs oil on Mahmoud’s back, but it’s this act, witnessed by Fareed, which causes their downfall. Ayaz is initially charged with corrupting, and penetrating Mahmoud, is thrown in jail, and repeatedly raped by the prison guard (Fanos Xenofos). Eventually they are both charged with consensual homosexual acts and the judge (George Savvides) punishes them to death.

‘Haram Iran’ is a very important play that highlights the brutality and injustice that these two young innocent men endured in Iran. While not every scene in ‘Haram Iran’ might not actually have taken place, what is fact is the murder at the hands of the Iranian government of these two young men. Directed by Gene David Kirk with brutal and emotional intensity, ‘Haram Iran’ was written by Lawyer Jay Paul Deratany, who happened to find the story online. And each member of the cast are excellent. Juneja and Costin are both very believable as Ayez and Mahmoud, young and innocent but punished nonetheless. Maimone as Ayaz’s mother is superb in her role. Xenofos is very scary (and a bit too believable) as the prison guard who shows no mercy, while and Savvides is downright cold, mean and heartless as the judge. ‘Haram Iran’ is a brutal yet delicate story of two young men who didn’t deserve to die because of who they were.

Haram means forbidden by Islamic Law

To buy tickets, please visit:

Haram Iran

Haram Iran is playing until May 1st.

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25th Jan2016

Alright Bitches (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_7800nLet’s go on a trip to Gran Canaria via Above the Stag Theatre in their newly-penned play ‘Alright Bitches.’

It’s exactly what you would expect from a play with that name at a theatre which produces the campiest shows in town (written by Martin Blackburn). We’re in Gran Canaria, where the boys do their shopping, clubbing, picking up and shagging all in the same place – the Yumbo Centre. And not far from the Yumbo Centre is Los Hombres (The men). It’s a gay guesthouse but not primarily gay male and clothing optional. But for one week the guests at Loa Hombres include alcoholic and uptight Jason (Anton Tweedale), who’s not very happy to be there, and his young boy toy boyfriend Ollie (Grant Cartwright), as well as Garth (Ethan Chapples) and his best friend and flat mate Max (Lucas Livesey). Also along for the ride is Garth’s very good friend Pam (the fierce Hannah Vesty). And what do you get when you mix two horny gay couples with a women who’s also looking for it? Lots of sex jokes, and drama, and fights, and everything you would expect from a show such as this. You see Ollie is supposedly in love with Jason for who he is, and not because he’s a successful closeted banker. But Garth fancies Ollie, meanwhile there’s a bit of bad chemistry between Jason and Max, who’s has a towel that reads ‘Only Gay on the Beach’ – as if. But it’s Pam from Milton Keynes who provides all the laughs (“I’m menstrual and it’s a fool moon”), putting up with the boys antics while at the same time filling her mom in with her holiday antics and gossip on her mobile phone. There are lots of funny lines – “the barbed wire around the complex – is it to keep them out or us in?’ and in reference to Garth spending his time in some of the insalubrious places there, Max asks “Were you in the darkroom developing photos.?” To thicken the plot, there’s something strange about the man who is alone in his bungalow across the way – is he a serial killer? It all makes for a week full of tension and implied sex among the men at this guesthouse that, from the outside that we get to see that is the set, looks like any typical guesthouse in Gran Canaria. Enjoy the laughs and try not to groan when some of the jokes don’t hit, for it’s a holiday that you’ll probably forget. And give Vesty her own show – she’s fabulous!

To buy tickets, please go to:

http://www.abovethestag.com/whatson/alright-bitches/

‘Alright Bitches’ is on until Feb. 21, 2016

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17th Sep2015

The Sum of Us (Theatre)

by timbaros

GffcPytSRz50E5plbN9oLHH-ma7n4Xx4I5yg75BTlyo,Exrjx2ZQT6MSd-N2VrZTiZF6evDd3UaDtDeuSzFdFWQ,-9_GH5YYFTxekWyxmiy5jYg7XK7JnrJ-7oZojIWCGNM-1A father who loves and accepts his gay son is the theme of the new play ‘The Sum of Us.’

In 1994, a young Russell Crowe played the gay son in the movie version of ‘The Sum of Us’ which was originally staged as a play in New York City in 1990. Now a new version of the play ‘The Sum of Us,’ which has never played in the UK, has just opened at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Harry (Sephen Connery-Brown) is a forty-something widower raising his twenty-something young son Jeff (Tim McFarland), who happens be gay. Harry is not bothered about his son being gay, he actually encourages Jeff to go out and meet other guys, to enjoy life while you can while you are young. And Harry doesn’t mind when Jeff brings other guys over to their home. Jeff is good-looking and athletic with a very positive look on life, but he says there’s a space in his heart that is empty, a space that could be filled by another man. When he meets someone he likes (Greg – played by Rory Hawkins), he’s immediately smitten. But it’s Harry who interrupts the two young men who are on the couch getting to know each other. Harry says a bit too much about Jeff, and their close father and son relationship makes Greg feel insecure about his own relationship with his father. Meanwhile Harry, after being a widower for a number of years, also starts dating – he feels like it’s time to get out there and meet another woman. And he does. Her name is Joyce (Annabel Pemberton), and her and Harry are getting on like wildfire. But when she learns that he has a gay son, she just can’t accept this. Firstly she’s angry that Harry didn’t tell her when they started dating, secondly she just can’t accept gay people at all. Even after Harry proposes to her, she just doesn’t want to see him anymore. So thus we have a father and a son who both yearn to be with someone yet obstacles get in their way. And as Harry tells Jeff, he is the sum of us, the sum of him and his late wife, and the sum of his grandparents and great-grandparents. Actually, we are all the sum of us, and this is the message of the play.

Above the Stag Theatre really sets the bar high on this one. Their previous shows had names such as ‘Rent Boy: The Musical’ and ‘Bathhouse: The Musical.’ However, they have now produced a play that is serious, heartwarming and very well-acted. The Sum of Us is a story that most gay men may not relate to; who can say that their fathers have whole heartedly accepted their homosexuality. But the play, written by David Stevens, who also wrote the film version and the original play version, successfully combines the son’s and father’s search for love and the close relationship they have with each other. And in the end, the message is that we all want someone to love and someone to love us, no matter whether you are gay or straight. Connery-Brown is great as Harry, as is McFarland as Jeff. They have a real rapport as father and son, and even resemble each other a bit. Hawkins and Pemberton are fine as the other halves, who may or may not wind up in the men’s lives. The set, down to the details of the1990’s script, cleverly goes from a living room to a park, in this cute theatre that is nice and cozy with a bar to match.

The Sum of Us is playing at Above the Stag Theatre until October 4th. Tickets can be bought here:

http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/

Buy tickets now – it’s selling out fast!

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