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For Reasons That Remain Unclear review at King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘compelling performances’

The cast of For Reasons That Remain Unclear at King's Head Theatre, London. Photo: Alex Brenner

A young, louche Hollywood screenwriter hosts a charmingly frenetic priest in his hotel room. Every moment, it seems to get hotter between them, a feeling enhanced by the heat in the King’s Head Theatre.

Written by The Boys in the Band playwright Mart Crowley in 1993, the UK premiere of Reasons that Remain Unclear is the headliner of the King’s Head’s 2018 Queer Season. Jessica Lazar, returning to the venue following her revival of Steven Berkoff’s East in January, directs an engaging production, the chemistry between Simon Haines and Cory Peterson giving Crowley’s aphorism-prone dialogue an easy naturalism.

The characters get on swimmingly despite their differing opinions on nearly everything: while Peterson as Conrad has all the earnestness of a boy scout, Haines’ Patrick is deliberate and cynical, remarking on the afterlife, “I can’t think of anything more maddening than an eternal orgasm.”

The play’s predictably grim twist can be sensed immediately, however, as the men gradually share their attitudes towards their families, drinking, and faith, and the anger of the climax lacks a real physical edge.

It’s no fault of the text that since the play was first performed, its subject of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse has gone on to be addressed in more interesting, sensitive ways. Crowley’s play is capably handled, aided by Clancy Flynn’s smart, swelling lighting design and the engaging pace of the conversation before the big reveal.

Playwright Mart Crowley: ‘Showbusiness is about luck – God knows, we’ve all had flops’

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Compelling writing and performances win out over a predictable plot