The Chemsex Monologues, King’s Head Theatre, review: ‘The lonely confessions speak volumes’

The Chemsex Monologues
by Patrick Cash
at The King's Head Theatre. Picture: Elliott Franks

The Chemsex Monologues by Patrick Cash at The King's Head Theatre. Picture: Elliott Franks - Credit: Elliott Franks

With no props, a minimal backdrop of neon strips and some sparely used house music interspersing the stories, the focus in Luke Davies’ swift production is Cash’s talent as a master wordsmith

The six degrees of separation theory that people are always connected through a chain of six people holds ever-increasing weight in our shrinking world of Internet hook-ups.

It’s this understanding of fleeting human connections that underpins writer Patrick Cash’s vital and devastating The Chemsex Monologues, a tapestry of painfully intimate accounts of the hopes and fears of four characters existing in the twilight world of Soho’s intoxicating nightlife.

With no props, a minimal backdrop of neon strips and some sparely used house music interspersing the stories, the focus in Luke Davies’ swift production is Cash’s talent as a master wordsmith.

First up is Narrator (Kane Surry), a journalist in his twenties who falls for the stunning 19-year old Nameless - infamous on the gay scene for his multiple semi-clad photos taken in innumerable clubs. Narrator details the heady experience of taking G for the first time and the bleak morning-after goodbye.


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Next up we hear how Nameless (Denholm Spurr) falls for Porn Star Saint Sebastian at a chill-out party where single mother Fag Hag Cath (Charly Flyte – immensely touching) gives a bravura performance as she smiles through gritted teeth while watching the writhing bodies, wryly noting, “I hope that sofa’s wiped clean”.

Rendered with forensic wit is middle-aged outreach worker Daniel (Matthew Hodson) with his love of Freddie Mercury, who sets out to preach safe sex the night before Pride but can’t square his mission with his own desires. Each performer shines when it’s their turn in the spotlight.

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At times the writing is bald: “Why do so many gay men want to be outside themselves,” wonders Narrator as the musical chairs come full-circle. But with the monologues drawn from Cash’s own experience, the compassion is heartfelt. Risks and weaknesses are never judged and the lonely confessions speak volumes.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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