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CERTAIN YOUNG MEN
(1999)
 
Venue:   Almeida Theatre, London
Dates:   3rd February 1999 - 20th February 1999
Writer:   Peter Gill
Director:   Peter Gill
 
Danny   Terry
Alec Newman   Stewart
John Light   Michael
Jeremy Northam   David
Andrew Woodhall   Christopher
Sean Chapman   Robert
 
Synopsis:   Sean Chapman is Robert, who comes on in the second half as the bereaved man who's achieved wisdom. Danny Dyer is the youngest, Terry, a self- mutilator who is not quite or rather not yet a rent boy. Andrew Lancel is Andrew, a lower-middle class man who leaves Tony (Peter Sullivan), who has a similar background and tastes. Jeremy Northam gives an outstanding performance as David, an anguished doctor, in love with Christopher (Andre Woodall), a middle-class man who chooses to work as a garage mechanic. Likewise Michael (John Light) is a student who under-achieves by working as a hospital aide while carrying on a desultory affair with a beautiful Glasgow waif, Stewart (Alec Newman).

The characters' stories unfold on a nearly bare stage without walls or proscenium. Nathalie Gibbs's non-set consists of stacks of books (recognizable as Proust), a bottle of Scotch, some beer, and a few piles of junk. When the actors are not on, they sit in chairs at the back of the stage and listen. The dialogue they are hearing is about gay relationships being fluid, breaking up more easily than they are formed but that is not exclusively true of same-sex relationships, is it? The striking thing about Mr. Gill's dialogue is its freedom from camp. Lines such as "What is gay culture? The make of your underpants" are delivered without a hint of cute. True, the notion of gay community is undermined: "We don't," explains one of the characters, "have a homeland."

In place of gay solidarity, this gripping, enjoyable play offers a vision of humanity where there is an equal place for women, and even for heterosexuality. I saw it as a vindication of tolerance, almost a miniature utopian vision, with homosexuals having lessons to teach, such as the instinctive democracy of those whose sexuality so often transcends barriers of social class. Anyway, most aspects of the sex war are universal. Anyone who's ever had a relationship sour will recognize the complaint that "you're so selfish you can't even deceive me successfully." From The Wall Street Journal Europe
 
 
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