Circa is a play that follows the sexual exploits of a gay man throughout his life – from anonymous hookups to long term relationships – and in doing so, reveals the tensions of life as a gay person. The most touching moments of the play where when it brushed against your own experience and you saw the mirror of something you had said or done happening on stage. We rarely get to see gay life presented on stage, so to see a play which addressed such a breadth of issues from long-distance relationships, to ageing, to online dating, felt necessary.
The set design, music and lighting helped add to the tension of the play. The acting is realistic (even in difficult scenes, such as a one night stand with a rent boy/drag queen) and the dialogue engrossing – there is never a missed beat. The relationships, which were supposed to be tender, felt ready to explode under the surface and those that were more volatile still seemed to have a shared camaraderie of marginalised people.
On a technical level, this play was magnificent, but I still left the theatre feeling dissatisfied. In the end, I do not need to watch another play that sets up a heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy. For a play with such varied characters, I found it difficult to believe that the main character was unable to find another gay man who also shared his values. Many of the older men, portrayed by the fantastic Anthony Gabriel, seemed like the slightly more fleshed out versions of the shallow stereotypes you might see from straight dramatists.
Does every play about a gay character owe us a happy ending? No, but I have seen this story before. I do not understand how you can present a play to a majority gay audience and not give some hope. When confronting an audience who have struggled with what you are depicting would you not want to give some kind of resolution? All this play told me was not that there is struggle, and you will get through it, but this is where you are going to end up and it is not pretty! I personally do not want to believe that – maybe I am asking for too much. It was a brilliant play. I will happily go see whatever Tom Ratcliffe produces next. But please, I have been told this story before; yes, there are a lot of things I like about it, and a lot of things I can relate to, but ultimately, I am done with it. Give me a new story.
Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor