Outlaws to In-laws review King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘an ambitious project’
Seven short plays by writers including Jonathan Harvey chart the turbulent trip down the aisle for gay men in the UK. Spanning seven decades, Outlaws to In-laws is a potted history of the cost of the political and social obstacles on the way to equal rights and gay marriage.
Part of the King’s Head’s Queer Festival, this ambitious production is a whistle-stop tour that takes in the Coronation, sexuality and race, the Tory Party, HIV/Aids and online dating. Packed into a lean two hours, several of the plays clunk hard as they struggle to make their characters more than on-the-nose emblems.
Those with more time to breathe fare best. Jonathan Kemp’s 1970s-set Reward, explores the growing relationship between white skinhead Spike (Jack Bence) and bookish young black man Donald (Michael Duke). Boosted by strong performances, it’s a nicely observed, affecting character study in an economically bleak landscape shadowed by racism.
Elsewhere, Matt Harris’ inventively surreal Princess Die dives into drag queen Shane’s comedown after learning his boyfriend is HIV+ on the night his idol, Princess Diana, dies. Alex Marlow’s bewilderment as Elliot Balchin’s Calvin Klein mannequin comes to life on his sofa is well pitched for this astringent farce.
Mary Franklin’s staging shifts nicely between plays, although it’s hampered by issues with audibility. But even through this production’s clumsier moments, the joyful message as Robin and Zak pop open the poppers and decide to live married life their way in Joshua Val Martin’s The Last Gay Play is loud and clear.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.