For this stylish double bill of plays in the newly fitted Above the Stag studio, writer David Thame examines the patterns and parallels between homosexuality and international espionage. It’s not a particularly new subject but Thame uses two real-life mystery deaths to fabricate a complex and compelling pair of plays, in which sexuality, blackmail and menace make very unsettling bed-fellows.
This tightly constructed but fictional double bill explores how homosexuality could be used as a lethal weapon.
In London/Budapest, Thame tells the story of Adam de Hegedus, a Hungarian émigré settled in London who made his living as an author under the name of Rodney Garland. It was thought that he killed himself in the late 1950s but his death is far from clear-cut and he was suspected of being a spy. Thame’s play sees him entertaining Reg, a handsome aircraftman whom he’d picked up at the Jermyn Street baths.
Thame uses the curious death of Gareth Williams in 2010 as the basis for Kompromat, exploring how a cryptographer ended his life locked inside a travel bag.
Guy Warren-Thomas plays his two characters with a skittish self-assurance that make their deaths – or assassination – seem even more brutal. Max Rinehart’s performance as Reg and Zac is equally powerful, underlining the horror and uncertainty of his own situation. Peter Darney’s efficient direction allows each story to unfold at its own pace, with necessary flashbacks that don’t interrupt the emotional trajectory of Thames’ thought-provoking dramas.