'Dream Man' by James Carroll Pickett

A word of warning: if an hour of explicit homosexual phone sex is the sort of thing that sends you running to complain to Mary Whitehouse, then look away now. Dream Man is a brash, balls-out confrontation of the realities of long-distance sexual gratification, set in a time period where real-life intimacy was haunted by the fear of AIDS, still known in some of the media as the 'gay plague'. James Carroll Pickett's script largely avoids directly addressing 80s issues of discrimination, shame and fear, but it's not a straightforward celebration either – as operator Christopher (a well-sustained performance of a demanding role by Jimmy Shaw) continues his monologue, switching from a fantasy-fulfilling phone personality to a painful personal revelation, subtle changing of lighting and blocking make him look increasingly haggard, sweaty and tired. The audience are repeatedly involved, pointed out by torchlight, given business cards, and finally directly addressed: 'call me'. The raw material of the show is so powerfully open and honest that I almost wished the interaction had been more invasive, more of a direct challenge: not that Christopher is in any sense an easy person to ignore. While the only person on-stage at any time, his three phone tricks are created in their absence with clear, separate personalities, though it's harder to know exactly what's going on with old flame Billy. The script at times approaches performance poetry, which Shaw's staccato delivery suits, but in the moments of biography the imagery feels a little overdone, all burning eagles and angels in petrol station toilets; it's at its best during the phone sex itself, accompanied by suitably pornographic music and a refreshing sense of its own inherent ridiculousness. Overall, a triumph in minimal surroundings and a poignant elevation of a sordid career. Probably don't bring your nan.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

'Dream Man' is an aria for the brokenhearted, oozing with sexuality, not about sex as much as it is about how we negotiate sex to find out who it is we truly are.

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets