I watched "My Night with Reg" on February 24, almost by the end of the play’s run, which is unfortunate as I would have loved to see it again. This was one of those plays which I had on my list as something that I would like to see but it was nowhere near at the top. More so, I bought the ticket only because it was on sale on Boxing Day, since I am not too fond of Panasonic Theatre as a venue.
I also knew next to nothing about the play as I have never heard of it before but I did have an inkling that it might have something to do with LGBTQ+ community (I still have no idea how I guessed but here you go!). But then the show started its run, three actors of the main cast did a short interview during Morning Show on Global (which I watch faithfully every day), so it gave me a better understanding of what I was going to see. And I got excited.
It is a rather short, only one hour and a half long, chamber play. There is no intermission, however, there are three distinctive parts that span across several years. The transition is so quick that the audience is often left to wonder how much time has actually passed.
It is a play written by British playwright Kevin Elyot. The events take place within gay community in London in 1980s, when the threat of HIV/AIDS is on the rise. The story is about a group of close friends who go through love, heartbreak, betrayal, and death, somehow still maintaining their friendship. The central figure in the majority of conversations is a mysterious Reg, who never makes an appearance, but whose existence affects most of the characters in one way or another. In spite of a looming threat of terminal disease and occasional bouts of depression, the play is surprisingly funny and racy (plus, it includes full frontal nudity on stage - just saying!). There are a lot of tongue in cheek jokes, as well as jokes that might fly over the heads of those who are not part of LGBTQ+ community (I was sitting next to a couple who seemed to be confused throughout of the play), however, the problems that those guys face are universal and relatable.
I, personally, found the play both heartwarming and heartbreaking. All of the characters have their own secrets and troubles. The threat of HIV/AIDS is never discussed or mentioned explicitly, although it is being referred to more than once. There is also a mention of rape, which is sort of glossed over as well. I had a feeling as if the Guy’s apartment was some sort of a bubble in which they all encompassed themselves, trying to hide from the realities of death, disease and reality. This bubble, unfortunately, starts to crack as the play progresses and the friend face the deaths of their loved ones.
I think all the actors did an amazing job at playing their characters. If I had to pick my favourite, I would say that Daniel was probably my favourite. I stayed for a bit of Q&A at the end of the play, which provided a bit of more insight into the characters of Bernie and Benny.
I wish I had read the play before watching it but I am going to rectify it soon. This was the first time it was performed in Canada, but hopefully not the last time.
Personal rating: 4 stars