Theatre Review: Coming Clean, Trafalgar Studios

PUBLISHED: 12:16 15 January 2019

Elliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming Clean

Elliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming Clean


The King's Head's very funny revival of Kevin Elyot's play about sex, love and loyalty between a gay couple transfers to the West End

Elliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming CleanElliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming Clean

This very funny play has transferred to Trafalgar Studios after a successful run at The King’s Head in Islington,

Kevin Elyot, writes clever, witty dialogue that keeps the audience laughing throughout. And yet, there is a hinterland where sensitive issues, such as domesticity, monogamy, freedom, sex and love are explored in some depth.

Tony and Greg are celebrating the fifth anniversary of their happy, long-term relationship. Although it’s based on love and loyalty, they have always agreed that they are both free to enjoy brief sexual relationships with other men.

So far, it seems, they have combined the security of a reliable long-term partnership, with the joys of individual freedom. But is this sustainable? Given the complexities of the human psyche, people’s changing needs as they grow older, the power of sexual attraction and, above all, the contradictions and complexities of love, this is inevitably problematical.

Elliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming Clean Elliot Hadley and Lee Knight in Coming Clean

At what point does love become possessive or jealousy get out of control? No play can provide all the answers but this one examines some of the questions.

The four actors make a strong and cohesive team. Eliot Hadley, playing two very different characters, sets up the hilarious atmosphere at the start as well as capping it at the end.

However, his one-liners, delivered in the style of a stand-up comedian, seem often to belong to a different play.

Stanton Plumber-Cambridge, as Eliot, an apparently confident and successful writer, gradually reveals underlying insecurities and fears. Tony, his partner, sensitively interpreted by Lee Knight, is deeply in love with Eliot and yet, at another level, needs to break free.

Tom Lambert playing Robert, the attractive new cleaner, upsets this apparently ideal relationship. Amanda Mascarenhas has designed a set which accurately conveys the lack of interest in décor or domesticity of the people who live in it. The notion that, nevertheless, someone is still needed to do basic cooking and cleaning is another question thrown out by this intricate play.

Director Adam Spreadbury-Maher, focuses on the humour and has created a lively evening’s entertainment with plenty to talk about on the way home.


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