My Night With Reg – originally written by Kevin Eylot and revived/directed now by Robert Hastie – features a six-man cast over three acts of hard-hitting, yet bittersweet, drama. Set in the 1980s, during a time where AIDS and HIV were a particularly prominent and life-threatening issue for the gay community, the play follows the friendship of Guy (Jonathon Broadbent), John (Julian Ovenden) and Daniel (Geoffrey Streatfeild): three gay men all entwined and emotionally connected to one another differently, yet all experiencing unique and heartbreaking love triangles with the illusive (and never seen on stage) Reg. It recently transferred to the Apollo Theatre following the success of its sold-out run at the Donmar Warehouse.
Although the story is centred predominantly around the complicated friendships of Guy, John and Daniel, the lighthearted element of this uncompromising, yet hilarious, play comes from unlikely lovers Benny and Bernie (Matt Bardock & Richard Cant) and young bartender-come-painter/decorator Eric (Lewis Reeves). Where the five older men share their life experiences of heartbreak, infidelity and holding secrets, Eric in particular brings an innocence and distraction to the group in both his youth and naivety.
In just under two hours, My Night With Reg breaks modern-day taboo and addresses the devastating impacts and life-changing ways that AIDS and HIV have effected – and still do affect – both the sufferers and those closest to them. The play is an entertaining and compelling watch, but for those with a low attention span and poor blood circulation the absence of an interval could be a little problematic.
Hilariously enough, whilst TfL have been frantically censoring the play’s ‘cheeky’ underground poster campaign, the audiences of the Apollo have been treated to a little more than a bum cheek or two each night, as Julian Ovenden and Lewis Reeves bravely don their birthday suits for a small segment of Act 3.
Bare bottoms aside, seeing My Night With Reg is a worthy way to spend a night at the theatre – even as you’re nursing two dead legs shuffling out onto Shafetsbury Ave afterwards!