“Ah yes. We loved Streisand.” It’s just one brief line in this new play from Liver and Lung Productions, but it’s fully representative of the script’s nuanced, aching understanding of human relationships of all orientations, in what (initially at least) appears very much to be a light-hearted stagger through the clichéd straight woman and her gay best friend scenario—you know, the one that will only end when one of them gets a boyfriend.
This refreshingly honest and playful production remains a delightfully bitter-sweet experience
Liver and Lung’s co-founders, Hannah Shields and Shafeeq Shajahan, here play Sarah and Sky, generally found on or returning to the bed which takes up most of the performance space and functions as either Sarah’s or Sky’s most private space. Yet in a quite deliberate stylistic decision, the pair are surrounded, from the start, by the titular “seven other guys”—the men (three topless, three dressed casually, one in a suit) who come and go from their lives without, for the most part, leaving much of an impression. Sex and relationships are literally hovering around them in the gloom.
Of course, this format means that Shields and Shajahan have the best opportunity to flesh out their characters; the “seven” are essentially a succession of one-off cameos, with limited time and opportunity in which to leave any impression. It’s to the credit of both the script and performers that they do: we may be talking broad dramatic strokes here—asexual James, self-righteous Jorden, respectable city-worker Richard are just three examples—but all seven actors bring an energetic honesty to their characters, and in doing so give both Shields and Shajahan plenty of variety to play off against.
Sarah hates being vulnerable (except when surrounded by “safe” gay men) while Sky—despite all the sex—is riddled with self-doubt after breaking up with his boyfriend Henry. So it’s interesting that she—the trainee lawyer to his alleged filmmaker—appears to be the one most likely to move on. That might disappoint some, but this refreshingly honest and playful production remains a delightfully bitter-sweet experience which makes you think while you smile.