Naked Boys Singing – Garden Theatre at the Eagle, London

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

Book: Robert Schrock

Music: Robert Schrock and others

Director: Carole Todd

Some revue shows have titles which refer obliquely to their content. Robert Schrock’s Naked Boys Singing takes the Ronseal “does what it says on the tin” approach, both with its title and the opening ensemble number, Gratuitous Nudity.

Originally slated to run at the King’s Head Theatre earlier this year, director/choreographer Carole Todd’s staging reopens in the beer garden theatre of gay pub The Eagle. As we head into autumn, the open air theatre has installed heating, which will be a relief to the cast as much as the audience.

Anybody attending in the hope of seeing performers’ private parts will, of course, find those expectations met. But while some numbers are flippant and packed with end-of-the-pier sauciness — most notably Jensen Tudtud’s Naked Maid and Daniel Noah’s Perky Little Porn Star – there are moments of insight among the bawdiness.

The terror of gay sportsmen being inadvertently outed by their own bodies in team showers is dealt with in Fight the Urge, while the ongoing pressures of expectations of gay male bodies is a recurring theme. Kane Hoad takes the lead in ensemble number Muscle Addiction, although the same theme is explored with more emotional depth by Nick Brittain’s plaintive ballad Robert Mitchum.

Indeed, the various states of undress of the performers throughout the hour-long show emphasise the variety of body shapes and sizes of real men’s bodies perhaps better than either of those numbers does. But variety is also the show’s failing. Schrock worked with twelve other writers to create the show’s seventeen numbers (including reprises), and the diversity of writing can and does result in a lack of cohesion of musical styles and stances.

But as what passes for a “late night” revue – finishing in time enough to comply with 10pm closing time – this saucy, schlocky, schlong-filled show can’t help but raise a smile.

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Schrock’s schlocky schlong-filled show

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