Two plays, one theme: The Chemsex Monologues and 5 Guys Chillin‘ explore the ever growing scene of men who like their drugs with sex. Special Agent K. indulged both shows and got to talk to one of the actors in 5 Guys Chillin‘, Haydn Whiteside.
Just five minutes into the excellent 5guyschillin in Brighton that‘s it and the lights go out. An announcement and we the audience are outside on a cold English May night promptly followed by the cast most in little or no clothing! Well, it is a piece set in a front room! The perfect chill out! Thankfully it was a power shortage and nothing more dramatic and 30 minutes later we are all reassembled and the action starts again. This 70 minute drama is brilliantly staged and brings every comment or cliché to the script after hours of research by the writers. They don‘t miss a trick as the cast go through a repertoire of drugs, the reactions, the sexual conquests past and present and HIV issues all get the treatment and in some detail. Each of the characters is well drawn: the Host (Gareth Kennerley) the Young one (Haydn Whiteside) the Couple (Elliot Hadley & Michael Matovski) and the reluctant participant (Cael King) — well reluctant at first! And with a perfect script by Peter Darney. Each of them have their moments, their ups and downs and indeed the arguments. No area is left unturned and if you get a chance to see this in the future it is well worth the ticket price. The ending is the most unconventional I have ever seen in a theatre but no spoiler here! At the end I was able to catch up with one of the five stars and ask some questions.
BM: Hello Haydn Whiteside, thanks for chatting to Boner Magazine.
HW: My pleasure.
BM: The lights went out but you kept going. What were you thinking and how easy was it to start again?
HW: My first thought was that it was just a temporary glitch that would be rectified so that‘s why we kept on performing even though it was total darkness. It wasn‘t until the front of house member asked people to evacuate that I realised the seriousness of the situation with the main concern being the theatre itself, as it is an inflatable pop up theatre, would start to deflate! It‘s something to laugh about now but could have been quite dangerous at the time. Me and the boys then decided that we would start from just after the opening, where we would be dancing and coaxing the audience members into place. It really helped get the blood pumping and inject some adrenalin back into the system.
BM: Has the piece changed any of your views on the chemsex scene?
HW: Doing the show has been a huge education for me and also quite overwhelming at times. I was aware that this scene existed in London but wasn‘t aware about the severity of it and how much of an epidemic it really is becoming. My views and opinions haven‘t changed since doing the show in regards to Chemsex, but it has been hugely informative and rather than punishing those that partake in it makes me want to understand ‚Why‘? And ‚what can we do to help?‘
BM: What‘s next for Haydn?
HW: Next up for me will be another theatre show produced by The Kings Head Theatre called ‚F*cking Men‘ which will be on at The Assembly at Edinburgh Fringe throughout August. It‘s a charming and explicit tale about ten gay men and their sexual encounters with one another. Another show not wearing many clothes!
BM: Thanks Haydn and break a leg in Edinburgh!
As if that‘s not enough a visit a week earlier to see Chemsex Monologues was a treat. Consisting of 5 superb monologues by the cast of 4 (Charley Flyte Matthew Hodson Denholm Spurr and Richard Watkins) and written by Patrick Cash each monologue deals with a different issue of a chemsex fuelled party but brilliantly linked together so that I never felt there was only one person on stage.
Both are excellent productions and I hope will be seen by wider audience as they examine important issues for LGBT community which these days are much more open. By the way there is no holding back on the language use which adds to the reality of both pieces. Both get 5* even if I did freeze my b******* off whilst the lights were out!
Special Agent K (England)