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My Night With Reg

Published 26 January 2015

What it’s it all about?

Love, friendship, longing, loss and everything in between, all played out in one man’s London where a dinner party is followed in swift succession by one funeral after the next.

Opening in 1985 on an idyllic summer’s evening of booze and nostalgia, Kevin Elyot’s seminal piece about a group of gay friends and the titular – but never seen – Reg’s promiscuous ways sees the long overdue reunion of university friends mark the beginning of a catastrophic era that will affect all their lives.

Without any prior knowledge of My Night With Reg, it might be hard to imagine that a play about the AIDS crisis could be anything other than devastatingly sad. But you’d be wrong.

Casting its painfully accurate spotlight on the fragility and unpredictability of life, it is of course devastating for all the reasons you would expect, but it’s also devastatingly heart-warming and absolutely face achingly, wonderfully, devastatingly funny. You won’t find a more life-affirming way to spend two hours in London. This is truly British drama at its very sparkly best.

Who’s in it?

First seen at the Donmar Warehouse, director Robert Hastie’s original acclaimed cast transfers to the Apollo Theatre and, while the surroundings may be less intimate, the company have lost none of their warmth or wit in the upgrade.

From the brilliantly over the top Geoffrey Streatfeild as the gloriously flamboyant Daniel to an impossibly beautiful Julian Ovenden, who embodies the rich-as-he-is-idle playboy John with aplomb as he swans about with hilarious vanity in every step, collectively the brilliantly funny cast of six makes up a group so witty and eloquent, you would do anything to join their gang.

But, for all John’s beauty, Daniel’s dirty double entendre or Lewis Reeves’ touching innocence as the drama’s young Eric, it is Jonathan Broadbent as Guy who will steal your heart. Caught somewhere between the glue that keeps them together and a misfit outsider, Broadbent’s performance as the angst-ridden Guy is flawless and lends the piece a tenderness that will stay with you long after the curtain falls.

What should I look out for?

A quite excellent monologue on conservatories.

Who was in the press night crowd?

A veritable who’s who of British acting talent. Forthcoming Closer co-stars Rufus Sewell, Rachel Redford and Oliver Chris were taking a night off rehearsals alongside comedy favourites Miranda Hart and Sarah Hadland, stage regulars Clive Rowe and Nina Sosanya, former Corrie star Charlie Condou and Wolf Hall’s Jessica Raine.

In a nutshell?

British drama just doesn’t get any better than this sparkling, tender and flawlessly performed production.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@rhysrmann The Donmar Warehouse’s impeccable revival of My Night with Reg is even better on Shaftesbury Avenue. Utterly brilliant.

@smartgiles I loved MY NIGHT WITH REG – faultless production of a modern classic. The cast are all wonderful.

Will I like it?

Capturing everything that is both wonderful and painful about love in all its guises, this is a triumph that is unlikely not to charm the pants off you.

My Night With Reg is playing at the Apollo Theatre until 11 April. You can book tickets through us here or, for performances until 13 February, through our discount ticket promotion Get Into London Theatre.

 

My Night With Reg originally played at the Donmar Warehouse in August 2014 when the following First Night Feature by Matthew Amer was published:

What’s it all about?

Set in the 80s – you get that very quickly when the show opens with The Police’s Every Breathe You Take – My Night With Reg is the tale of six gay friends. Though the title character never appears, he plays a pivotal role in the lives of the pals and lovers who return to Guy’s apartment, where the action is set, over the course of a decade.

Originally viewed as a play about gay life and AIDS, Robert Hastie’s revival feels more concerned with friendship, betrayal, love, passion and loss.

Who’s in it?

Jonathan Broadbent is phenomenal as Guy, who somehow manages to be both the constant outsider and the heart of the group. Practically throbbing with unrequited love – his eyes are often more puppy dog than, well, a young canine’s – and haunted by a healthy fear of AIDS, he’s the geeky friend who never quite fits in but steals the hearts of the audience with the ease of a master criminal.

Geoffrey Streatfeild brings camp-free flamboyance to Daniel, the life and soul of the party whose world implodes, while Downton Abbey’s Julian Ovenden exposes the frailty and longing at the heart of easy-life-living John.

The entire cast, which also includes Matt Bardock, Richard Cant and Lewis Reeves, give beautifully nuanced performances as the friends and acquiantances whose relationships and inner strength are tested and broken.

What should I look out for?

The rolling back of years and wicked but good-natured banter shared by Guy, Daniel and John that only comes from a shared history.

Reeves’ startled meerkat moves when he finds himself the most unexpected of third wheels.

The cough, so subtle it’s almost imperceptible, as the piece moves towards its conclusion that could break the already battered heart of many an audience member.

In a nutshell?

Devastating and delightful, Hastie’s beautifully judged revival had me shedding tears of both sadness and joy.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@Markgatiss You must see the brilliant ‘My Night with Reg’. Funny, moving, fantastic cast, beautifully directed by Rob Hastie. Go! @DonmarWarehouse

@siobhni Now that’s good theatre! Just lovely. Well done all. #MyNightWithReg @DonmarWarehouse

Will I like it?

Many shows promise to make you laugh and cry. My Night With Reg delivers. It is sweet and devastating, charming and alarming, witty and crampingly pain-filled, touching, frightening and emotional. It leaves you longing for the happy ending that, despite the laughs, you fear will never happen.

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