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21:09 | 21st August 2018

Reviews: Live Shows

Wed 11 Jul, 2018
By Robert Ingham


definitely worth a delve into the dark side of the app...

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Grindr the Opera! - theatre review

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Imagine if Grindr, the hook-up app for gay men, was personified as a mischievous, playful but, ultimately, selfish god of the online underworld, and you have the start of ‘Grindr the Opera’, the latest offering from Above The Stag theatre in Vauxhall.

ATS really have taken things to another level with this production - from the very beginning it feels, looks and sounds very different from anything they’ve done before. Maybe it’s the visible orchestra. Maybe it’s the set breaking through from reality to online.

Or maybe it’s because they’ve taken a gamble on something from their norm. What’s interesting is that it also feels very familiar.

Writer Erik Ransom has taken a relatable situation for many gay men and thrown in all the clichés, stereotypes and salaciousness that come with Grindr. His attempt to hold a mirror up to the audience and show them what happens when the need for a quick fix meets horny men is rather obvious but, on the whole, works very well.

With a powerful seven-strong cast ably directed by Andrew Beckett, you’re in for a treat for the senses. It’s not exactly cerebral as you’ve heard it all before (that’s why they call them clichés), but Christian Lunn, who plays Grindr, is rather sensational, with a voice that slithers and slides like a snake luring its victims into its virtual burrow. And he’s assisted by two tempting nymphs (Tom Blackmore and Robby Khela) who have woken their master to drag the four gay men to their fates.

Straight-laced Doctor, Devon (David Malcolm), has been single for six months after an LTR, who takes a chance and meets Tom (Matthew Grove), looking for nothing more than NSA - but love blossoms instead. On the other side of town, closet-cased married business man, Don (Dereck Walker) has a sleazy penchant for younger men and tries to pay for self-proclaimed slut Jack (William Spencer). However Grindr is ever-present, ready and waiting to pounce on anyone’s frailties or moments of weakness.

Malcolm and Grove are endearing and well-suited to their roles, and Spencer is incredibly cute as the promiscuous 20-something, whilst Walker seems to be more settled in the second half, which is when the show shifts into a higher gear.

All in all, ‘Grindr the Opera’ works due to a mix of all senses - there are gloriously gothic and sadomasochistic costumes, a set of iniquity, dark and brooding lyrics and an underlying sense of unease that pervades throughout. But it’s also frivolous and frantic, with titillating and downright dirty lyrics that will satisfy all members (of the audience).

And as for a musical about clichés, it certainly doesn’t end as one - definitely worth a delve into the dark side of the app...

‘Grindr the Opera’ is on till 26th August.

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