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Told Look Younger

Michael Garner, Robin Hooper, Simon Haines and Christopher Hunter in Told Look Younger at Jermyn Street Theatre. Photo: Simon Annand Michael Garner, Robin Hooper, Simon Haines and Christopher Hunter in Told Look Younger at Jermyn Street Theatre. Photo: Simon Annand
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This new comedy by Stephen Wyatt observes three friends as they negotiate the highs and lows of life as older gay men. Oliver is the crusty academic, subjugating his emotional needs with work while bullish Jeremy is in a long-term open relationship. The focus of their concern is mutual friend Colin, who is about to marry a teenage Turkish boy. Over the course of three acts, their friendship is sorely tested but survives out of a mixture of compromise, understanding and respect.

Wyatt’s play develops amiably enough, striking a balance between observational comedy and poignant drama. His characters are often frustrating, foolish and emotionally damaged but the arcing theme is one of acceptance and if this means the play lacks bite, it at least provides a salient moral focus. Although the character of Jeremy acts as a yardstick for prejudice, it becomes less and less clear why Oliver and Colin put up with him. Coming out together at university just doesn’t cut the mustard as a reason; Wyatt might be wise to address this.

Sue Dunderdale’s languid direction seems at odds with the writing on occasion while Bob Bailey’s design is simple but effective. Christopher Hunter as Colin captures the serenity of a man finally at peace with himself and provides a good foil to Michael Garner’s obnoxious Jeremy. Robin Hooper as Oliver appears to struggle occasionally for lines but ultimately his transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is one of the more satisfying elements of the play.

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Verdict
Gentle but unremarkable comedy about older gay men and their relationships
Paul Vale
Paul has been writing for The Stage since 1998 as a critic and feature writer. He is also part of The Stage's Edinburgh Fringe review team.
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