Originally running at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival, The Boys Upstairs is a fast-paced comedy set in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Josh, Seth and Ashley are attempting to forge individual careers while enjoying a hedonistic lifestyle at the heart of New York’s gay community. Jason Mitchell’s quick-witted play features some wonderful moments of farce, but all too often plays like the pilot episode of a post-watershed sitcom.
Fortunately, Andrew Beckett, who has directed the last three adult pantomimes at Above the Stag, knows how to handle such lightweight material, striking a happy balance between comic characters and screwball situations. The result may not be particularly cerebral but it’s certainly entertaining and adds to the regular raft of original American gay comedies that have become a feature of this venue’s programming over the years.
A tight-knit ensemble, featuring Simon Walton as Josh, Stanley Eldridge as Seth and Joe Leather as the outrageous Ashley, masters the snappy repartee and broad physical comedy with relative ease and the occasional dodgy accent. Daniel Garcia strikes a nice contrast as the buttoned-down new neighbour Eric, but it is an exceptional Hugh O’Donnell, who performs a tour-de-farce, playing no fewer than six very different characters to great effect.
Verdict: Decent production values and a versatile cast continue to support this new wave of American gay comedies
- Above the Stag, London
- January 14-February 15, PN January 16
- Author: Jason Mitchell
- Director: Andrew Beckett
- Design: Zoe Hurwitz set and costume, Jack Weir lighting, Jason Kirk sound
- Technical: Robert McWhir stage manager
- Cast: Simon Walton, Stanley Eldridge, Joe Leather, Daniel Garcia, Hugh O’Donnell
- Producer: Peter Bull, Above the Stag
- Running time: 2hrs 10mins