‘Funny, sad, real, and a life-affirming glimpse of people like most of us’
New York, New York, but this is Staten Island, the borough so dull they named it once and then forgot about it, where aspiring actor/dancer Terry has failed thousands of auditions and spends his days serving coffee and fries in a Manhattan diner. If you can’t make out there, you can’t make out anywhere, and, as well as having a dead-end job and no way out of it, Terry (Lucas Livesey, outstanding) hasn’t made out for a very, very long time.
For this is also a love quadrangle – Terry loves store manager Buck (Robbie Capaldi) who loves Terry’s roommate aspiring actor Alex (Nick Brittain) who ought to love his girlfriend successful actor Sam (Natasha Edwards) who loves Alex so much she runs out the answerphone tape every night with messages of desire. Add in Roger (Faros Xenofos), a factory manager Terry half-heartedly picks up on the Staten Island ferry, and you’d have a pentangle, only Roger ‘loves’ anyone with a pulse who isn’t his wife.
The presence of that answerphone in the opening scene nicely places the play in the 1990s, but it hasn’t dated a day, being about the eternal themes of love, it’s labours and its losses.
The King’s Head seating’s been configured to make a triangular apartment complete with sofa and Christmas tree for a one-set 75 minutes, and the gags fly thick and fast throughout.
For the play is funny and sad in equal measure, with Livesey in particular achieving the feat of being whiny, annoying, solipsistic and utterly able to pull your heart out with his inability to find even a short-time companion.
And, like the brilliant My Night With Reg, at least in its first incarnation, or Armistead Maupin’s early Tales of the City books, it’s about being gay but vitally about people who happen to be gay being, yet again, in unrequited love. People who are annoying, frustrating, selfish, loving, kind and frightened of not escaping from the crumple zone next time the car crashes their hearts.
Funny, sad, real, and a life-affirming glimpse of people like most of us.
THE CRUMPLE ZONE by Buddy Thomas
Directed by Robert McWhir
Presented by LAMBCO Productions
King’s Head, Islington, 24 November to 9 December 2018
Box Office: http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com / 0207 226 8561
Reviewer David Weir’s plays include: Confessional (Oran Mor, Glasgow) and Better Together (Brockley Jack, London).