Title: My Night With Reg
Cast: Matt Bardock, Jonathan Broadbent, Richard Cant, Julian Ovenden, Lewis Reeves, and Geoffrey Streatfeild
Seen on: September 27
My Night With Reg was first performed in 1994, but it was the first time seeing it for me. I was lucky enough to nab a front row ticket, so the experience was fantastic all around. Jonathan Broadbent is Guy, a lonely gay man with a years-long crush on his university friend John (Julian Ovenden), whom he has invited to his flat warming party. That is where the play opens, on the night of the party, with John surprising Guy by actually showing up, and their friend Daniel (a wonderfully campy Geoffrey Streatfeild) stopping by unexpectedly too. Daniel has a boyfriend called Reg, the one from the title of the play, who we never meet but is the centre of this play.
My Night With Reg is achingly sad and beautifully funny at the same time. The story starts at Guy’s flat warming party, where John and Daniel catch up after years not seeing much of each other. Very quickly, and with a lot of humour, we find out how the men know each other, what has happened in the past few years, and the state of their relationships with each other and the elusive Reg. It is hilarious and raw at the same time, the humour always underlined with sadness and secrets.
The entire play spans 4 years; from the start at Guy’s party, to Reg’s funeral, and Guy’s funeral. Though the play is set in the 80s at the height of the AIDS scares, it is never emphasised beyond the necessary. The implication is enough, leaving the audience to focus on the unfolding drama. Because as it turns out, everyone has pretty much slept with Reg at some point, except for Guy. We meet Bennie and Bernie, a gay couple and friends of Guy’s, and even they have had a thing with Reg. Everyone’s had their night with Reg.
The three acts of the play all have their own tone; from witty humour and dizzying timing, to raw secrets and painful confessions, to melancholy and sadness and unspoken words. The set darkens with the tone, rain and thunder serving as background music to the unfolding story. The cast suitably looks more worn-out and tired as the years progress and they loose their friends and friendships. The humour becomes black and ironic, and the last act feels almost uncomfortable and shaky.
Overall, I really liked the play. It continued to keep my attention, it made me laugh and cry, and I really took something away from it. The acting was superb (though I can’t judge Lewis Reeves’ Brum accent ;)), the set was beautiful and really added to the feel and tone of the play, and the nudity and kissing wasn’t in the least gratuitous. It did have a decidedly 80s feel to it, so I can imagine future stagings will have to be updated a bit to keep that connection with the audience, but to me and most of the audience on the 27th it was a lovely play.