It seemed appropriate to see a Gay romance story on Valentine’s Day, but Grey Area is so much more than that. It’s a deep dive into complex Queer relationships, with its main emphasis on mental health issues and the way fragile connections can be cut in two by unforeseen circumstances.
Peter and Jackson are two Gays with one birthday between them. And they couldn’t be more different characters. Peter, dark-haired and with a gym physique and an endearing straight-acting Geordie disposition; Jackson, a camp, curly-haired slim self-deprecating and insecure joker.
What they have in common is love for each other. But is it enough? Peter (Lewis Kennedy) has a deep, disturbing secret to unfold, and Jackson (Jonny Peyton-Hill, who is also the writer of the piece) has his own hang-ups to deal with.
In 17 non-linear time jumps over 7 years, we see the ups and the many downs of their on-off, ex-relationship. Anyone who has had connection with someone who is bipolar will recognise the journey we see here. There is guilt, anger, bewilderment and hurt on both sides, and yet the physical attraction seems mostly to overcome these apparently insurmountable issues.
Lewis Kennedy gives a brilliant, quietly smouldering performance, and Peyton-Hill’s dialogue for him gives physical manifestation to the turmoil within – it’s almost like his thoughts are unravelling in his head and we can see and feel them.
Peyton-Hill is magically funny and irritating as the frenetic Gay man who has lost his way in relationships, except the one he seems to be trapped in. That there is a kind of resolution in the final episode give us something to cheer about. But we’ve also got two masterful performances and tight, honest and clear direction from Chiara Virgillio.
It deserves longer than a few nights’ outing and I’m sure this young theatre company Homing Bird will find another opportunity to show this important and in the end life-affirming piece.
Grey Area is at Network Theatre, Waterloo as part of the Vault Festival until the weekend and at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington from 27 February to 5 March .Tickets at homingbirdtheatre.com
Footnote: Going to the Network Theatre, tucked away beneath and beside Waterloo Station, took me back 3 decades. I performed there with its resident company, playing in King Lear and The Importance of Being Earnest. It was nice to go back there, and great that it still exists.
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