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Brighton Year-Round 2022

Morning Glory

Theatre Royal, Brighton

Genre: Comedic, LGBT, LGBT Theatre, Mainstream Theatre, Short Plays, Solo Play, Theatre

Venue: Theatre Royal, Brighton


Low Down

Directed by  Allan Cardew, with a set and sound designed by Andrew Kay and Allan Cardew. Lighting’s provided on the Theatre Royal stage in the studio format with the fire curtain down. Two performances September 13th, then to be revived.


A noisy flush and David walks on. ‘That dates me doesn’t it, slippers, dressing gown, I bet most of the kids in the bar last night are still in bed and when they do get up they will pull on nothing more than a pair of fancy pants…’

45 minutes after the start of this show and the pin-drops erupt into tumultuous applause. Andrew Kay’s Morning Glory has just walked into its sunset. For now. This is why you should look out for it when ir rises again. Two performances on the same evening mean it’s over in a blink. But since 2019 this show has caught the attention of ATG, after its Edinburgh Fringe and other runs, and why it was brought to the Theatre Royal.

Due to a very late indisposition, director Allan Cardew is also David, not so much as lamenting his morning glory as the passing of it, or so we think. A fifty-something man with a slight hangover, he talks as he dresses, recalling for us those twinks last night with their thongs and logo on the front… ‘Ha! not me, I’m sticking with Marks and Sparks’ and spotting his white underpants we’ve no reason to disbelieve him.

David’s just been to his friend George’s 60th at a bar where six twinks – young men not 20 – parody the dance-moves of the older men. David finally has an answer to them.

David’s been there, and the way Cardew examines two towels, drops one, examines ties and drops one to roll up into a drawer, rather presages his reminiscences of the safe haven of Clapham’s The Two Brewers back in the 1980s and later.

Cardew edges dishevelment but his David never for a moment lets his pecker droop; there’s no self-pity, there’s no mess. There’s hardly an Emin feel to the turned-back bed, chest of drawers to its right as well as a hanging shirt, and to the left a dressing table. With a teddy bear. Noises off too are sharply timed. David’s neat, tidy, realistic about his middling looks never having been pretty like George’s and thus never so devastatingly lost. ‘it was quite literally raining men or for some of us there was a light drizzle.’ No mess then.

Kay’s dialogue is throughout as brisk, witty, inevitably self-deprecating in a play so exquisitely wrought from such double-entendres. When the older men in the bar find the music too loud, David quietly remonstrates, and it’s here we see the fun start:

‘Well his face looked like a cat’s arse, but the bar manager gave him a look and he changed his tune, literally.’ Kay doesn’t flinch from the knowledge that the manager’s act is both pitying and patronising to a degree, and the gradations of David’s sharp awareness are brought in. He notes of the six young men one’s podgy and another a possibly closet young man who looks more apologetic than the rest with their ‘Mary muscles’ and fake tans, gym-fit and scornful. After more parodic dance-moves of the same he acts.

Cardew moves quietly dressing from dressing table to bed to drawers in a seamless assembly as he fixates on a detail stilling him – and his audience – to a seraphic smile: someone it seems beyond the reach of most illusions, but fiercely protective of those who still cradle a few.

This climax – in David’s Mariner-like telling to a reluctantly fixated sextet – recalls the early 1980s world of It’s a Sin. Kay’s play preceded it and does something very different. Uniquely, it both confronts internalised homophobia and ageism whilst celebrating the battles gay men fought to allow such scorn; this is quite literally what David brings to the table.

Cardew’s telling and reaction is something you’ll need to see. As is the final line ‘Oh well, okay, I could never resist an apologetic smile!’ And to unravel that you’ll have to be there, next time. A small masterpiece of amused, unflinching reveal, which does something no-one else has done at all.