The theatre is packed out. We are crammed, hip to hip in this (very hip) tiny theatre, just off Cambridge Circus, perfectly mirroring the atmosphere of the play we’ve to come to see.
Set in a small cramped bedsit in Islington, Circa 1966 (effectively designed by Valentine Gigandet) Written by John Lehar, “Diary Of A Somebody” is based on verbatim excerpts from playwright Joe Orton’s real life diary. It chronicles his life in the year before he was bludgeoned to death by his lover Kenneth Halliwell.
At our point of entry Orton (played with impish charm by George Kemp) was already a ‘Somebody,’ with his plays “Entertaining Mr Sloane” and “Loot” defining the swinging 60s with their irreverent take on societal norms.
Orton was the working class lad made good, aided and abetted by his older, cultured middle-class lover. The two met at RADA and although initially happy, Halliwell (played with dogged dourness by Toby Osmond) becomes increasingly sidelined and jealous of his protégés’ success.
Orton relentlessly extolls the virtue of rampant promiscuity. His words, although often amusing, reveal a callous narcissism. We watch … unable to look away, as their relationship becomes more and more untenable and toxic.
A myriad of characters played by four actors, whirl on and off the set with great alacrity, illuminating the couples personal and professional lives. Jemma Churchill’s characterisations are particularly authentic and often hilarious.
I found the play grimly riveting. Despite having laughs a plenty, it is a poignant record of a, ultimately shocking, demise of a Gay relationship.
Well done to the KU Bar Group for supporting this production. It’s wonderful to see artistic enterprise being nurtured by LGBT+ businesses.
Until April 30th.
Seven Dials Playhouse // 0203 8416600