Set in the summer of 1985, this is a very British play about love, relationships and the fragile and transitory nature of life – played out through the interactions of a group of gay men.
Things start off in a casual, relaxed way – there’s a small party about to begin with a palpable, nervous energy brewing. The set is bright, pleasant and homely, the perfect backdrop for the subtle, poignant drama that unfolds in this one act play.
Every character is refreshingly unique and diverse. Although they all appear to be some form or another of ‘English gent’, they slowly reveal aspects of themselves – their passions, dreams, loves and regrets, bringing to light delightful characters – and quite probably, if you’ve ever been part of any gay scene, personalities you’ll recognise.
Jonathan Broadbent’s Guy has years of regret and pain for a love never realised, simmering under the surface – his jolly façade rarely cracks, but when it does, we had genuine heart pangs.
Lewis Reeves’ Eric is full of the innocent naivety and excitement that many of us may have felt when we first moved to a big city like London. He’s also hot. And yes, there is nakedness.
The hunky Julian Ovenden of Downton Abbey fame is utterly charming, gorgeous, and charismatic – but there’s something missing from this man’s life. Watching him search for it is a real window into the soul. And yeah, he gets naked too.
The rest of the cast are hilarious in their own way, with an especially side-splitting tirade from Richard Cant’s Bernie.
There’s nothing particularly 80’s about My Night with Reg – it could easily be 2015. As each character reveals their ‘night with Reg,’ the laughs roll in. The conversations all feel very contemporary, real and genuine.
The only difference between now and ‘then’ is, people start getting ill and people start dying. It’s at this point that the comparison with where we’ve come today in terms of HIV and AIDS becomes starkly and heartbreakingly apparent.
A wonderful play, and essential viewing for any gay man, whatever decade you come from.
My Night with Reg is on now at the Donmar Warehouse.