F*cking Men

What to expect from a show called F*cking Men? Yes, it is ostensibly about sex, specifically gay sex, and as you’d expect it’s ripe for memorable one-liners like “I’m not gay, I’m in the army.” but it also lays bare the fragility of modern masculinity and the defence mechanisms they use to deny these deep-rooted issues. It takes the tired and stereotypical narratives about gay men and the stock characters that inhabit them and slowly rips them to shreds before your eyes – where you once laughed now you see the sad truth that’s all too familiar for the gay community.

The production may tell us a lot but also shows us plenty without feeling the need to explain what we’re meant to think

Writer Joe DiPietro achieves this in a striking manner, namely: rather than focusing on one specific character he provides us with snapshots of interconnected homosexual encounters that invariably revolve around sex. Furthermore the three actors, Haydn Whiteside, Harper James and Richard de Lisle, play multiple roles that resurface and interact across the ten scenes – to give you an idea, a soldier solicits a rent boy, who then has sex with his tutor, who has sex with a married man and so on until we come full circle. It’s a brave move that takes a while for the audience to get used to but has fantastic results in the long term. What’s more, the dialogue is incredibly snappy and loaded with subtext, brought fully to life by the actors under Mark Barford’s direction. We may only encounter these characters for one or two scenes but by the end we feel that we know them intimately and they’ve ceased to be the stereotypical sex-obsessed bi boy or the married man who just sleeps around to ‘keep up’ with his anti-monogamy partner.

The production may tell us a lot but also shows us plenty without feeling the need to explain what we’re meant to think. Can you receive oral sex from a man and still call yourself straight? Does being gay mean you have to reject monogamy? And for that matter why do people have sex anyway? Is it because “it’s fan-fucking-tastic” as one character puts it? The creative team are right in their confidence to leave these questions unanswered as there are as many answers as there are people. What they are clear in saying is that we need to stop putting gay men into boxes and let them be who they really are, because right now everyone’s pretending and no one’s winning.

Reviews by Liam Rees

Pleasance Courtyard

UNCONDITIONAL

★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Signals

★★★
Summerhall

Everything Not Saved

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Daughter

★★★
Pleasance Dome

Lights Over Tesco Car Park

★★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Chase Scenes

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

After smash-hit, sell-out runs in London, F*cking Men arrives in Edinburgh for the very first time. Do guys only want one thing? And how far will they go to get it? This frank, funny and full-frontal play takes the search for sexual satisfaction to the next level, laying bare the love lives of 10 men as they navigate relationships, infidelity and heartbreak. Guaranteed to set your pulse racing! 'Fan-f*cking-tastic' ***** (CultureFly.co.uk). 'Clever, hilarious and very poignant' ***** (WestEndWilma.com). 'Will seduce you theatrically, emotionally and mentally' ***** (GrumpyGayCritic.co.uk).