Riverside Studios, London
until September 24
Ian Hallard, in his new comedy Horse-Play, clearly expects us to be at least mildly titillated, if not shocked, by the idea of it being set in a gay sex dungeon. I wonder if that’s not now a faintly quaint and patronising notion.
I wanted to like this play, which I’d hoped might have some of the spirit of the early Joe Orton comedies, but it didn’t quite do it for me.
Of course it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much what any play is about so long as it is well written, acted and directed. On the fundamentals, it fails.
It’s about a middle-aged couple (David Ames and Jake Maskall) who try to spice up their sex life by enlisting the services of a rent boy (Matt Lapinskas) who they pay to dress up in a comic-book villain costume and “punish” them.
There are opportunities for some great laughs – such as when the rent boy accidentally concusses himself as both of his clients are rendered incapable of movement – but it’s never quite realised.
Top marks to the Riverside for trying to do something brave. The actors do what they can with it, and Andrew Beckett directs with a sense of grim determination, but the script is obvious and really it amounts to little more than a gay version of that old seventies TV favourite George and Mildred.