Review: My Gay Best Friend
Photo by Matt Jones
Louise Jameson - Rachel
Nigel Fairs - Gavin
A heady mixture of high camp, melancholy reflection on friendships and the childhood dramas that haunt us all.
Racquell is a 50something would-be diva who's locked herself in the ladies, furious because her gay best friend Gavin isn't there to support her; he's sitting in a walk-in wardrobe about to become a father with a lesbian couple and a turkey baster!
In my experience at least, it's rather unusual for two performers to write their own show.
Often, of course, one of the actors in a cast might have written the script, but I don't think I've seen anything recently which springs to mind where both of the performers had a hand in the writing.
Here, though, both Louise Jameson (who plays Rachel) and Nigel Fairs (playing Gavin) share the writing credits.
A glance at their professional biographies - describing a wealth of experience in acting, writing and directing - shows that it might not be so surprising that they decided to collaborate.
The approach certainly bears fruit not only in the often frank, sometimes bitter dialogue, replete with numerous expletives, but in the semi-symbiotic and vulnerable characterisations which are essential to make this piece work.
If anyone had been on the brink of dozing at the end of a long, hard day's work, they would have been instantly woken by the very first line, spoken with considerable vigour and not a little venom:
"Fucking useless faggot!"
That comes from Ms Jameson's blunt Rachel who is stuck in a toilet waiting for her gay friend Gavin to fetch-up at the club where she is about to make her appearance singing on-stage.
Dressed in an outfit featuring a glitzy and sparkling jacket and skirt that she's spent 3 weeks' wages on, she's desperate for support on her big night.
Now she's frantically trying to raise her best pal, but getting just a recorded message from his phone.
Gavin isn't picking-up because he's raising his 'best pal' in order to fill a 'yogurt pot' with the necessaries to donate to a lesbian neighbour.
Not perhaps your average, everyday household chore you might think, but certainly not unique in terms of theatrical drama - the highly adaptable turkey baster has, I think, been referenced at this address before!
Though that is the initial set-up, the play quickly turns its attention to a review of not only how this pair of 50-somethings actually became best buddies, but paints a fairly intricate portrait of their life-stories to date which includes some disturbing events, especially in Rachel's.
That means the play, even if it is generously laden with comedic lines, reveals more poignant and moving moments as it progresses.
Of course, drama is no stranger to comedy - you'll regularly find the best and most poignant dramatic works peppered with humour.
Almost all the poignancy here comes from Rachel when we hear of her failed, five-minute marriage to a "testosterone, work shy tosser" and the unwanted, unwelcome and damaging attention of her father's best friend when she was a girl.
In fact, the play itself, as the title suggests, is really about Rachel rather than Gavin.
Though I have doubts about the necessity of the main feature of the ending, there is a strong sense of inevitability about it given the delicate equilibrium embodied in the relationship described, and Rachel's experiences with men in general.
And, in the end, the man she thought "placed no demands on her" also proved not to be the best of best friends since, when she needed him most, he was distracted.
A short play, but almost of the perfect length, My Gay Best Friend doesn't offer particularly unique perspectives on the issues it covers, but it does combine powerful and sensitive storytelling with compelling performances from a fine cast.
Links and related content
ActDrop listing for Hope Theatre
Our show listing for My Gay Best Friend
Read our reviews' policy