Book and Lyrics: Leoe Mercer
Music: Stephen Hyde
Director: Sam Ward
Reviewer: Richard Maguire
Of all the shows playing at the Breaking Out season at the Bunker Theatre, GUY, a new musical, feels the most complete. In its current state, it may lack some sophistication when it comes to production values, but the acting is first class, the singing is excellent and the songs are very catchy.
Guy can’t find love on Grindr. While that may be true for most of us, Guy lacks confidence because he’s overweight and he’s a little weary of the ‘no blacks, no fats, no femmes’ he sees written in other men’s online profiles. He’s good at messaging, but he lacks social skills IRL.
So when Aziz, a muscle-bound doctor, starts chatting him up at the cafe near the gym, Guy can’t quite believe his luck. What follows is a sometimes predictable, but always irresistible, rom-com of the highest order. And with a decent drop of cynicism, it also explores the complexities of the gay scene in the 21stcentury.
The challenges that Guy and his friends encounter seem right up-to-date. We have songs about catfishing, male eating disorders, and gym addiction. Stephen Hyde’s music reflects these modern-day issues and seems refreshingly contemporary with Latin-infused pop in songs such as Click and GUYS, a Florence and the Machine vibe in I Was a Man Once and a Beyoncé-style ballad in Suppression Effect. There’s not one dud song in 90 minutes.
Leoe Mercer’s lyrics are just as keenly observed and are often very funny; ‘train me, train me master, I want to build a body just like yours’, one man sings to his personal trainer in Inferno. ‘He said hi, and I hoped we’d be married by July’sings Guy about another one of his Grindr dates. Along with the humour, Mercer also gives his characters romantic lines too, perhaps best seen in Click: ‘We click like a light switch, we kiss like a plot twist.’ Together. Mercer and Hyde, known as leoe&hyde, are a formidable partnership and were behind the well-received, The Marriage of Kim K, from last year.
With an almost bare stage, director Sam Ward ensures that the action moves quickly and Yukiko Masui’s choreography works well here, despite the fact that Guy proclaims that he ‘dances like a potato’. As Guy, Brendan Matthew soars, and we support him all the way. X-Factor finalist, Seann Miley-Moore is excellent as Aziz, and while the quality of his voice is never in doubt, his acting skills are also outstanding, especially when he’s nervous and shy in the company of Guy. They are joined by Adam Braidley and Steve Banks who, also in good voice, play Guy’s friends and hook-ups.
Slickly performed with some infectious energy, GUY deserves a longer run with a more elaborate set. This show has the potential to very big indeed. If musicals about gay dating apps are your thing (and if GUYis anything to go by, they should be) then opening next month at the Above The Stag Theatre is Grindr: The Opera. If it’s as good as GUY, then we’re in for a treat.
Runs in rep until 7July 2018 | Image: Contributed