Camden Fringe 2008
Tell Me on a Thursday
Venue: Etcetera Theatre, Camden
Festival: Camden Fringe
An obvious pun on Tell Me On A Sunday, but instead of a musical about a single woman in NYC Spitting Distance’s Tell Me on a Thursday firmly situates the audience in Sex and The City for the gay man in London. The eternal hunt for the perfect ‘mr right’ boyfriend is on.
An obvious pun on Tell Me On A Sunday, but instead of a musical about a single woman in NYC, Spitting Distance’s Tell Me on a Thursday firmly situates the audience in Sex and The City for the gay man in London. The eternal hunt for the perfect ‘mr right’ boyfriend is on.
With no set and just a water jug on stage for company Gus Gowland takes us through a whirlwind of firsts, first dates, first sexual experiences, coming out and most importantly tells an engaging and compelling story. Using his ghosts of boyfriends past as markers, we witness Gus revealing some of the stories probably many gay men have experienced at some point and some which may only, hopefully apply to him. For example being tied up with random pieces of vacuum cleaner, curling tongs, a belt and a stereo and all the while be completely saturated in baby oil is, as Gus so eloquently puts it ‘death by Dyson’. However regardless of which story he is telling, doing it without the aid of props is not always an easy task and yet it is one which Gowland takes in his stride. There are moments when the character Gus meets reality Gus, possibly because he had a slight cold and had also hurt his hand. Perhaps this distracted somewhat from the zany historical Gus that held the audience captive on numerous occasions. There are moments when the direction of the show is spot on, but these are tempered by the lack of consistency, where in parts Gus falls in and out of character and the water jug and glass he uses ultimately become a distraction and do not blend with the plot.
Expecting an actual musical, the show did feel a little top heavy on patter and light on song. The songs that do feature in Tell Me on a Thursday are witty, original, fun, memorable and drive the plot forward. If only they could have featured more. Some of the stories were a little lengthy and I found myself waiting for him to break into song and this moment never happening. Gowland has a knack for capturing the iconic gay man in the city and still any audience member is sure to be able to relate to at least some of the stories regardless of their sexual preference.
Even through his cold the quality and power of Gowland’s vocals is clear and at full strength they are surely even more captivating. The first number which opens the show so boldly and with such energy is about G.A.Y nightclub, which would not be complete without a reference to Kylie in the chorus. The sign of a good musical is when you are able to leave humming at least two of the tunes. In the case of Tell Me On A Thursday I leave with one. With a little more focus on the music and lyrics which could and should become the back bone for the production, Gowland could find himself with a sure fire hit on his hands. Especially if he, just like he has suggested he will, tours it to specific gay festivals such as Queer Up North, Homotopia, Glasgay.
The programme suggests the theatre company, Spitting Distance was originally set up by Gowland in 2008 to create pieces of theatre that both challenge and entertain, while building characters which are alive, engaging and truthful. Tell Me on a Thursday in its essence captures all these traits, but more could be done to highlight them using the medium of song. Already an enjoyable way to pass an hour, but with a few slight shifts in plot and a few extra musical numbers to balance out the piece, there is no doubt Tell Me on a Thursday will go down an absolute treat at future performances.