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Undetectable review at King’s Head Theatre, London – ‘intimate and engaging gay drama’

Lewis Brown and Freddie Hogan in Undetectable at King's Head Theatre, London. Photo: Nick Rutter
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Tom Wright’s debut play My Dad’s Gap Year, which opened last month at London’s Park Theatre, concerned the exploits of a dysfunctional, fractured family on a trip to Thailand.

His second play, once again directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, is smaller in scale. The play explores the pressures of gay culture and the nature of addiction as two lovers involved in a burgeoning relationship negotiate emotional and physical boundaries.

Bradley (Lewis Brown) is intelligent but feels alienated by a gay scene that judges him for his class, race and his HIV status. Lex (Freddie Hogan) is confident and something of a player on the scene. After three months of dating, sex is on the cards, but Bradley is not sure that he want to take this next step.

Although only a two-hander, Wright’s play is very issue-heavy, in a way that sometimes feels constrictive. But Beadle-Blair’s sensitive direction keeps things pacy, and both Brown and Hogan inhabit their characters with honesty and integrity. Brown’s Bradley is a fighter, uneasy at having to let his guard down, who has met his match in Hogan’s charismatic, persuasive Lex.

Naked or nearly naked for much of their time on stage, the actors’ energy and focus remain constant, despite the wandering narrative. If anything, the production is less about sex and more about communication. Though the play is problematically overloaded with issues, Wright’s nuanced approach to LGBT+ issues shows real promise.

Playwright Tom Wright: For now, I applaud straight actors making space for LGBTQ+ talent

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Verdict
Engaging and intimate gay drama that gets bogged down in its own issues
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