My Night With Reg review - January 2015

A masterpiece.

I have read and heard excellent things about My Night With Reg following its sell out run at the Donmar Warehouse. I am thrilled to say that the hype is completely well deserved; this is one of the finest pieces of theatre around.

Writer Kevin Elyot sadly passed away before this show began it's Donmar run but his legacy lives on in his masterful script, brought to life by an extremely talented cast at the Apollo Theatre. Despite being set in the 1980's at the height of tension surrounding AIDs, the shows messages of love, loss and friendship are just as meaningful.

The word "AIDs" is never once mentioned in Elyot's text; a testimony to the beautiful subtly of the story's most dramatic plot twists. The fact that such a key element is never discussed, only presumed, works to reiterate it's taboo in the generation it is set.

I could write forever about this perfectly crafted text and it's ability to make the audience laugh and cry within minutes of each other, the depth of characters brought to life on stage and their interweaving predicaments. However the brilliant literature was not the only thing that made the show great; let me now marvel at the Actors and their fine performances.

There was not a weak link in this expertly cast chain with each performer complimenting the overall arch of the piece with perfection. Jonathan Broadbent (who was unrecognisable from the man I had seen in Grand Guignol just a few months ago) played a conflicted and lovable Guy, with his story resonating with many in the audience. Broadbent managed to strike the perfect balance between melancholoy and desperate, which made his rare flicks of dominance and frustration exceptionally engaging.

Geoffrey Streadtfeild and Julian Ovenden played Guy’s university pals Daniel and John to contrasting perfection. Daniel plays the tall and somewhat birdlike successful business man to John’s natural good looks and lazy demeanor, together this works well and moments in which the pair were together on stage were some of the best. Best of ALL was the Starman rendition. Wow.

Similarly fabulous were the queeny/builder duo Bernie and Benny played by Richard Cant and Matt Bardock who’s chalk and cheese chemisty was pure brilliance.

Lastly Lewis Reeves as young painter and decorator, Eric, provided a layer of innocence and naivety to the play that was at times deliciously funny and at others heartbreakingly melancholic. Once again I need to marvel at Elyot’s ability to create so many differening characters that avoid sterotype.

Director Rob Hastie perfectly scored the piece, building moments of real tension that were at times brilliantly undercut by humour and vice versa. The show was somewhat of a bitter sweet emotional roller coaster thanks to Hastie’s impeccible ability to capture moods.

Paul Pyant and Peter Mckintosh's designs matched the subtlety of the text as well as the clear fleeting moments of camp madness (hello rainbow proscenium arch!) These, coupled with Gregory Clarke’s inspired sound design work with all of the above to generate a real piece of total theatre.

A masterpiece.
23 January 2015, Apollo Theatre