THEATRE REVIEW: Bottom @The Marlborough

Brian Butler March 6, 2019

Willy Hudson is a gay boy on a mission. Through his great love for Beyoncé and trying to get a boyfriend, he first needs to find out the truth about his sexuality. Is he a top or a bottom?

IN this hilarious hour-long romp, author and performer Willy tries to make sense of coming of age today. Willy is 27, from Exeter, an ex-drama student who lost his virginity thanks to ketamine, is perplexed.

Every man he meets on gay dating apps or in person asks the same opening question, “top or bottom?”

He thinks he is clearly the latter, but when he tries to be a top, his namesake appendage down below refuses to respond. It’s to Willy’s credit as a performer and Rachel Lemon’s high- paced direction that his ED can be made funny as well as sad.

Dancing through four jobs at the same time, Beyoncé and the top and bottom issue are his life. He can even serenade us about it with his 3 chords on the ukulele.

What the very endearing Willy manages is to take serious subjects about stereotyping and labelling and codes of behaviour and make them intimately funny to his ever-laughing audience.

And it’s no linear monologue. He takes us back and forth in his short life and involves the audience, promising to guess whether people are top or bottom by simple questions with hidden meanings.

There’s even a brief lesson about handkerchief codes and their meaning, and the dilemma when a man signalling he’s a bottom is fancied by another bottom.

Willy’s answer is to try to change his position – literally – to be accommodating and hope for a good outcome.

He leads us along, hoping his current short-term date will text him back after a rather unsatisfying night, which involved Beyoncé (obviously) and burnt fish fingers.

In the last line of the play, we find out his immediate future.

I first saw Bottom at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and it feels even fresher and sharper.

Go and see it on tour if you have the chance, and find out – is he finally a top or a bottom, or does it matter?

Bottom was at the Marlborough pub theatre, Brighton and is now on tour to Bristol, Harlow, Oxford, Sheffield and Cardiff.

Review by Brian Butler