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Review: Play Something, by Paul T Davies, Colchester Mercury Studio, February 26

PUBLISHED: 11:15 01 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:15 01 March 2016

Ben Maytham, Shane Whitworth, Matt Bradbury and Jacko Lang in Play Something at the Colchester Mercury Studio

Ben Maytham, Shane Whitworth, Matt Bradbury and Jacko Lang in Play Something at the Colchester Mercury Studio

Archant

Do the dynamics and concerns of a long-term relationship and a marriage change if you are gay? Are the challenges different? These are the key questions in Colchester writer-director Paul T Davies new one-act play given it's world premiere at the Colchester Mercury Studio.

Jacko Lang and Ben Maytham in Play Something at the Colchester Mercury StudioJacko Lang and Ben Maytham in Play Something at the Colchester Mercury Studio

Set against a soundtrack of classic songs which mark key moments of meeting, falling in love, break-up, make-up, marriage, illness, old-age and eventually death, it’s a play which looks at the dynamics of a relationship through the eyes of two very different individuals.

Paul has wisely opted not to populate his play with gay stereotypes but rather draw careful protraits of people who happen to be gay. The fact that they gay is a vital element of the play as it examines marriage through a gay person’s eyes and demonstrates that in every gay marriage there is a male and female partner.

What does come across is that although they are part of a diverse world the fact that they are gay has a tremendous impact on others and how they perceive themselves. One partner works for the NHS and has no qualms about coming out but his husband is a policeman and comes from a military family and for a long time just can’t bring himself to share with his family let, alone his colleagues that he is in a single-sex relationship. In the 21st century, it would appear that these are still real issues.

The performances by Jacko Lang, Ben Maytham, Matt Bradbury and Shane Whitworth are, by turns, both gritty and touching. You get a real sense of their relationship changing and evolving over the years and the idea of using different actors to portray their older and younger selves was a great way to show not only the passing of the years but it also provides a way of giving the two unnamed lead characters supportive friends and colleagues.

The music also plays a key role providing a vibrant soundtrack not only to their lives but to the play itself.

For a play that features some very taught, direction and a direct writing style, the play’s final ‘act’ was uncharacteristically unfocused and seemed to lose direction. I suspect that before the play receives another outing, writer-director Paul T Davies will be revisiting that final 10 minutes and probably chopping it in half.

Play Something offers a compelling look into all our lives and on one level reminds us of the power and importance of music in our lives and on another level, how the complex problems of human relations bring both joy and pain to our lives. It says when we love we lay our hearts on the line and to do that we all have to be brave.

Andrew Clarke

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