Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Gavin Roach presents “Confessions of a Grindr “. Written from experience, this one man show introduces us to Felix a young attractive gay man who is addicted to the internet phenomenon that is Grindr. Faced with the opportunity of a proper date, he recalls some of the real and virtual adventures that he has experienced and struggles to end his relationship with his promiscuous virtual world.
We meet Felix in the middle of a stressful phone call with his mother. His irritated responses are those of someone who lives a double life that he doesn’t want his mother to know about. This is emphasised by his response to her that, yes he is going to the pub with friends, and “no we won’t get drunk” He hangs up and reveals to his captive audience that none of it’s true because what he actually has his first date in over a year, tonight.
He slurps from a cheap bottle of fizzy wine and proceeds to tell us about his hobby, which is logging on to the Grindr site. Grindr is a meeting place for gay men who want to hook up with other gay men who like, want and need sex. Preferably with no strings attached. It’s a place where you can invent a new name, personality and even post pictures that may not necessarily be you. He admits that one can be easy prey but the excitement of reaching out to anonymous men and their subsequent responses makes it all worthwhile. He tells of the first man he connected with, Adam a male prostitute, whom after several exchanges invited him over. Felix takes the risk and taxis over to a rough part of the city, his expectations aroused. Despite his urgent readiness for action, the evening doesn’t pan out quite like he’d envisaged. The other element that fascinates him is fetishists and although he usually doesn’t meet the participants on Grindr, he surprises himself by allowing a man with a serious foot fetish to show him an extraordinary time. It’s not all fun and games though and his revelation that he stripped and danced in a busy street in the middle of the day before realising he was being ridiculed was a hard lesson to learn. Despite promising that tonight he would disconnect from Grindr, Felix begins to have doubts about meeting his date Sam. All of a sudden he lacks the confidence that Grindr gives him and having devoured the best part of a bottle of wine he feels his insecurity taking over . Will he actually go?
Gavin Roach plays to a full house of mostly gay men who clearly know what Felix is talking about. His wide eyed delight in mentioning the size of people’s appendages, and allegiance to the liking of ginger pubic hair earns the appropriate response. Perched across an armchair, the likeable Felix tells all in a gossipy manner and slugs on his wine so often that you do feel as though you’re in his flat and you really know him. The conspiratorial sniggers confirmed that this forum is alive and kicking and he does advise of the dangers that also lurk. His desire to be thrilled sexually is relentless and this allows the encounter with the foot fetishist to happen with his re-enactment exciting and sensual.
The night I am in we are all queued out in merciless rain. We climb to the top of the building and are told the show is running late. Roach stumbles over a few lines and it feels like the management may be rushing him to finish on time. Nevertheless, he wickedly divulges as much as he can. Felix begins with what is obviously a strained relationship with his mother but we never find out why. This piece skirts around major issues such as Grindr and similar sites that encourage a life of false imagery. I wanted him to delve more into that. A lot of Felix’s encounters came to nothing and he was left frustrated yet given the opportunity to go on a date – where physical contact is guaranteed, he’s not so sure. It’s a simple set of an armchair, bottle of wine and a couple of hats and I would have liked to see them do more with the lighting it felt slightly harsh.
This short play will appeal to those of us who like to play and play hard. Roach picks up on the points that affect everyone, whether is an internet site or real dating. In that, the excitement of waiting for that call or wondering if that special person is thinking about you is tantalisingly addictive. How we’ll be satisfied with and still able to recognise and develop genuine relationships in the future is a debate for the bar.