Some assert that homophobia, for the most part, has been eradicated. Equal rights now legally exist and those against the LGBT+ community are apparently a minority. Yet Thomas-Howe’s play deals with a subtler hatred: an internalised homophobia. The play commendably unpacks prejudice that lurks in the shadows, in the air we breathe and unconsciously within our own minds.
The play commendably unpacks prejudice that lurks in the shadows.
Zach (Thomas-Howe) and Ally (Ben Hadfield) appear to be a happy couple. They’ve been going out for five years and stumble into their new flat drunkenly with smiles on their faces just an hour before Ally’s 30th birthday. Nothing, it seems, is wrong as the play unfolds in real time. Zach’s assault on Ally’s NHS colleague “Two Pint Tony” is accepted flippantly, yet unresolved issues seem to bubble below the surface. Ally is clearly mulling over more than just how to entertain or seek attention, as is the self-professed “normal” Zach.
For an hour, the outside world is at bay and the two men are left to consider the state of their own, monogamous relationship. Will they come to terms with their union for what it is or continue to dance around any underlying and inevitable issues that emerge in all long-term relationships? Funnily enough, the only thing that might disturb their solitude is an imminent takeaway.
Ally fears getting old. The contrast between a decade of leisurely cocaine consumption as opposed to mortgages and avocados encapsulates his objection to entering his thirties. This coming-of-age ultimatum was foregrounded in my mind as other issues quietly unfolded through Thomas-Howe’s artfully constructed script. Is this the last chance for Ally to feel young or the last chance for their relationship?
Yet age felt closely entangled with an inclination towards or away from monogamy. Ally flirts away with Mr Patel, owner of their beloved Indian takeaway, which was amusing and endearing. It also seemed, however, to quietly clash with any professed allegiance to a monogamous relationship, foretelling complications that the play goes on to explore. Ally jestingly imagines himself “stabbed with a stiletto in a bar fight” if he were without his companion. Yet the seemingly kind and gentle Zach is not necessarily so innocent.
I imagine the play will be very successful in its upcoming London run.