- May 8, 2019
It’s the late 1960s and two young men meet, in what was one of the very few ways two men could meet back then, that is if you were homosexual. It was dangerous, unpleasant and for many a desperate attempt find love. Public toilets were the meeting places for gay men, not from choice, from necessity.
This extraordinary piece starts with such an encounter, two young men from very different backgrounds, one working class and one aspirational middle, meet in cubicle and fall in lust. From there on that lust becomes love, but a love that follows a dangerous and oppressed path. Whilst one finds love and support from his family the other finds rejection. The relationship seems doomed and they part.
What follows charts the vile history of gay men and what the authorities did to them as punishment for being in love. It’s a frightening and bitter truth and for many it will be hard to believe that the setting is only 50 years in the past.
Playwright Kathrine Smith has crafted a beautifully passionate script about love, about oppression and about a world all to easily forgotten. The language is beautiful, the boy from the record counter in Woolworth is distinctly Mancunian whilst the college boy has the softened tones of middle class Lancashire.
Ciarán Griffiths plays Bobby with a sense of fragile assurance, naivety yes, but strength too. Christian Edwards plays Ralph with sensitivity, dealing with the conflicts of his chosen path as a teacher and the rejection of his family with total conviction. Both are utterly believable in roles that portray a time in history that is all too often swept away.
The play is not without humour either – but the whole is a timely reminder that it is still only 50 years since the UK partially repealed the laws outlawing homosexual activity.