REVIEW: Dangerous – Above The Stag

Now, before I start, I have to say that I am not the type of boy who enjoys straight (no pun intended!) plays, and somewhat unfortunately, I rarely venture out of the West End – I am, of course, predominantly a lover of musical theatre. However, Dangerous, currently playing at West End fringe venue Above The Stag, has managed to win over my heart and mind and has really captured my imagination.

Inspired by the classic novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos

Dangerous is a raunchy, fast paced and entertaining adaptation of the notorious novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, exposing the sexual power games of a group of gay men in London and Brighton in the 21st century.

Cheated on and cheating, the charismatic Marcus and Alexander are both rivals and partners in crime, vying to outscheme the other. For them, lust and indulgence are king; love and compassion a sign of weakness. Enter the naïve and innocent gym trainer Jason and trainee priest Trevor who seem destined to be caught in the crossfire. Let the games begin…

The play is billed as a ‘gay’ version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (a.k.a. Cruel Intentions to the film buffs), however for me, I found that NOT viewing this piece as based on the original novel, and going with an open mind really helped me to appreciate the play even more.

The story itself has many twists and turns, guaranteed to keep you intrigued and especially when we get towards the end of the play, it becomes rapidly becomes really emotive and hard-hitting.

The casting of the play is simply exquisite, with faultless performances from all of the gents involved. That this is classed as Fringe Theatre really added to that appeal for me, and I really liked feeling like I was a part of the production, with the venue being as intimate and close to the stage as it is.

Whilst we’re discussing the casting, I have to confess a rather soft (ahem!) spot for the actor playing Langdon too (Richard Anthony Mason) 😛

Above The Stag was definitely the perfect venue for this production, and lent itself well to the general vibe of the play. I thought that the staging and movement of props were well-considered, especially given that it is performed in such a tight space, and I also felt that the scripting was very strong and intelligent – unusually for a play, it managed to retain my interest and wasn’t just a ‘tired old gay cliché play – far from it!

One thing I dislike about gay performance art (especially the movies), it always seems tired, distant and a little run-of-the-mill –  we don’t seem to get over the whole ‘gay’ thing ourselves in our movies all that well, and so never get a decent story out of it.  This is certainly one thing that you definitely cannot say about Dangerous, as from my own view point, I found it very easy to identify with it on several levels, having experienced some of the situations explored in the play in real life, and felt that the production and general ambience had the real community feel to it given the nature of the venue.

There were admittedly a few points where I felt the scripting could perhaps go a little deeper (for example, I feel that I would have empathized a whole lot more with  the character of Trevor, the soon-to-be-Priest, had I seen his demise acted out on stage before me), but that’s not to say that these moments at all detracted from the script or staging of this play – which remained strong and credible.

I was fortunate enough to meet (read as ‘very drunkenly embarrass myself in front of! :P) several of the actors after the show. I thought they were all really lovely chaps and really in tune with the vibe of this show and wanting to make it a success, which for me, was so refreshing to see.

The production does contain a lot of male nudity (which got no complaints from this reviewer heh!), however do not let this deter you. I was a little unsure of what to expect from this show before I went to see it, however what you ultimately get is a MARVELLOUS piece of gay drama, where social hang-ups simply don’t exist – it was so refreshing to see actors do a gay storyline without it being on a TV soap and being such an issue to start with! Unlike major shows such as HAIR, where the nude scene is such a big deal, Dangerous manages to overcome this barrier several times, without the audience even batting an eyelid, which I think is a real testament to the actors, who manage to make everyone feel so comfortable.

All in all, a fantastic show and one that I would recommend to all of my readers, whether straight or gay. Fringe theatre is something that I am really getting into at the moment, and I can think of no better production than this to get people started off. I certainly hope to get chance to go back and re-watch this during its limited run (if you fancy going, do please let me know!).

Dangerous is playing Above The Stag (very close to Victoria Station) until Sunday 11th July. Tickets cost a very reasonable £14, and can be purchased from HERE.

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About Gari

Northern lad; living out in the Peak District and rediscovering life after having had a brain tumour.

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