Set in 1985, My Night With Reg is a story of friendship amongst a group of gay men, during a scary time in history – the AIDS epidemic. It’s a story of unrequited love, promiscuity, and the disastrous effects of that time.
First staged in 1994 at London’s Royal Court Theatre, towards the end of the Aids pandemic, My Night With Reg would have been a raw and emotional watch for many who were still living through that time. Twenty-five years on and the world is thankfully in a much different place, where the word ‘Aids’ is no longer deadly and even HIV is potentially on the brink of being curable.
When I was a teen in the mid ’90s, Aids wasn’t something I really knew about (there was no internet back then) but I did sense an enormous cloud of fear in the gay community. I remember walking into gay bars and looking around to make sure no one was going to attack me for being gay and seeing pub doors locked when people outside were being beaten by homophobic passers-by. Being told I would get Aids and die for being gay, being led astray by old men with the promise of ‘helping me understand what it meant to be gay’ and constantly feeling like an outcast for being different. This was considered normal for me growing up. I can only imagine how much worse it must have been in the ’80s and a play like this, which reflects such an important time in history, needs to be told honestly so that the younger generation can understand the fight gay people have had, to get to where we are today.
The whole cast is superb. Paul Keating (Guy) leads the show as the sensible and meek party host. He is a joy to watch with elements of Frank Spencer in his character. James Bradwell (Eric) is adorable as the handyman – a young, simple Brummy, recently moved to London and a feast for the eyes for the older dinner party guests – he plays the role with a beautiful innocence. Stephen K Amos (Benny) is hilarious and Gerard McCarthy (Daniel) is bags of fun. Edward M Corrie (John) and Alan Turkington (Bernie) also perform well.
The last time I saw My Night With Reg on stage there was no interval. This production does include one but I felt it could have been more evenly divided up. Whilst I appreciate the naked male body, the nudity in this play is irrelevant to the story and unnecessary – it would be great if there were a purpose to it.
My Night With Reg is a nice show with a beautiful set design but I felt the themes of the show were glazed over somewhat and it was a missed opportunity to highlight an important story.
Reviewed by West End Wilma