Trafalgar Studios (venue)
10 January 2019 (released)
09 January 2020
Coming Clean was Kevin Elyot's first successful play and was debuted at the Bush Theatre in 1982. It is set in the time following decriminalisation of homosexuality. A period when gay men had the freedom to explore what it was to be in a long term relationships whilst still being out on 'The Scene'. It is made all the more dramatic knowing that the outbreak of Aids is ever looming.
Director (Adam Spreadbury-Maher) has made the right decision to keep it true to period ,and he weaves the broad camp humour and realisation of what an open relationship can truly mean extremely well. It has a truth that will resonate with any gay person that has lived through that time. Designer (Amanda Mascarenhas) has crammed the setting of the Kilburn flat with good period details, but in doing this, has overworked the scruffiness and detritus to a level that clashes with the characters that live there.
Tony (Lee Knight) and Greg (Stanton Plummer-Cambridge) have been in an open relationship for 5 years, a seriously long term relationship in those days. It is difficult to gauge the closeness of their relationship until Greg breaks their 'agreement'. He has an four month affair with their very handsome, and newly appointed out of work actor/cleaner Robert (Jonah Rzeskiewicz). The pivotal scene where Tony walks in on Greg and Robert in flagrante, followed by Tony and Greg searching for truth and some form of reconciliation, is so perfectly played it truly hurts.
We also see the more flamboyant side of gay life in the camp persona of William played to the hilt by Elliot Hadley. He encompasses the freedom, unabashed talk of conquests and full-on disco life of the early 80's. Elyot uses his acerbic gay banter and humour to contrast with the lonely side of gay life. We get a glimpse of this when William declares' The day I'm invited to a dinner party and find an odd number of guests, I'll know I'm loved."
It has a lot of parallels with Elyot's major success 'My Night With Reg', and together they explore the complexities of gay relationships . The writing here is not as well crafted as My Night With Reg, and there are definitely moments that appear over written with some of the plot being very predictable. But as a window into Gay life of that period, it is an important play that well deserves this excellently acted revival.