THE FULL MONTY/THE YORK REALIST
The Prince of Wales Theatre, Leicester Square/T he Strand Theatre, Aldwych
Two gay love scenes are part and parcel of London’s West End theatre, and it’s interesting how little reaction this has provoked. You couldn’t have two more contrasting shows, than the hype of the Broadway musical of The Full Monty and the quiet, humane1963-set gay love story The York Realist by Peter Gill.
Terrence McNalIy, the out gay playwright responsible for the exclamation drama Love! Valour! Compassion! about seven gay men weekending away in the country, as well as Corpus Christi in which he reimagined Christ as a homosexual Texan, has penned the book of the musical The Full Monty. More fun than the bland British movie on which it is based, the musical encourages the audience to pretend that they are at a male stripper act, so allowing for much heckling and innuendo. With a melodious rock score, The Full Monty explores the idea of male dis-empowerment.
The two gay male characters - one suicidal living with his demanding mother, the other hung like a horse - are as underwritten and non-threatening as the mainstream audience expects. They both realise the other is gay because of their love of The Sound Of Music (that old stereotype). The audience begin to titter uneasily at the scene where it looks as if the two men will snog. But McNalIy delays the kiss, giving the men a love duet to
love song in
ﬂ .v ,w ..- H *:.--':
Moiityhbrings gay romance into the mainstream;
season at the Royal Court, it’s a terrific play, acted by a dream ensemble, about a way of life, that 40 years on, feels like being from a different planet.
Avoiding mutilation, anal rape and drug desensitivity (key ingredients that no self—respecting modern drama would do without), The York Realist is a play in which characters actually talk to each other. It stuns with its eloquence. Sitting around a kitchen table eating real food, or washing under arms in a Belfast sink, it conjures up an authentic world, surprisingly relevant to today. Gill asks pertinent questions about how location defines character and what makes someone gay.
And the kitchen kiss, just before the men go off to share a bed for the first time, necessitated because the younger man has missed his last bus home to York, is erotic, tender and tiny. And the entire audience,
sing instead. Not since Jerry Herman’s La Cage Aux Fol/es have two men taken centre stage, held hands and sung of their love. For camp factor, Dora Bryan is in The Full Monty surreally improvising like mad. She is as incandescent and ageless as she was 40 years ago in
the movie A Taste Of Honey.
At the heart of The York Realist lies a different gay kiss, between a young Oxbridge theatre director and a farm labourer playing Judas in a community production of a York Mystery play. Transferring from a sell-out
Perfect Days, Borderline Theatre, on tour
SynonymOuS Wllh glamour, longevity and one of the dirtiest laughs in Showbusiness. Una McLean cackles over the telephone when I suggest she is something of a gay icon. “I've always been a bit camp and outrageous.‘ she admits in between rehearsals for Liz Lochhead's delightful Glasgow comedy— drama Perfect Days. 'I love gay folk. they're great fun. And of course there's no sexual threat. so we always end up as great conﬁdants.‘
An incredible all-rounder, McLean has fIOurished for hall a century in the entertainment busmess. Edually at home in comedy. serious drama. musicals and variety. she is a one-off phenomenon. The first Scottish female performer to have her own TV series in the 19608. she headlined the legendary Five Past Eight Shows at the Alhambra Theatre. and was Stanley Baxter's wisecracking co-star in the big Scottish pantomimes which have become theatrical folklore. The Scottish public clearly hold Una McLean very dear to their heart. As a performer. she doesn't rest on her laurels. but is constantly experimenting.
78 THE LIST ll 2."; At)! 700?
straight, gay, young ,old, lean forward collectively, willing it to happen. The whole play has been building to this gay kiss, it is inevitable. No titters, no flesh on display, just real emotion.
Welshman Peter Gill has been part of the theatre
establishment since the 19605 as both writer and
pushing out the boat a little further.
‘l never knew what a homosexual was until I went to drama school in the 19508.‘ she confesses bashlully. 'I grew up in Larkhall where they whispered about Big Jessies. but it never really Sunk in what they were . . . Nowadays gay folk don't need to be ashamed. In the 19503 it was a crime. I knew lots of talented gay men in the theatre then. some of whom were in long. steady relationships. But they kept QUiet abOuI it. OtherWise they w0uld have been put in jail. It was medieval times'
It was in the Hollywood comes to Glasgow“ Five Past Eight Shows Wllh their costume fittings and paste jewellery. that McLean started to be identified for the glamour and svelteness which still is very much part of her persona today. ‘Gay men have such sense of style and it was a fabulous gay dresser I had in the 1960s who taught me the value of appearance. He once screamed at me in Sauchiehall Street: “McLean. don't ever let me see yOu out in public withoot make-up on yir ceiipon. Dae ye think Joan Crawfurd runs down Sunset BOuIevard no givui' a toss aboot how shelooks?“
ln Perfect Days Una plays the tough but vulnerable mother of TV celebrity
director, and has never been quiet about his sexuality. The York Realist is undoubtedly his best work. Go to London for the weekend, see both shows. You’ll have a blast. (John Binnie)
McLean: ‘Camp and outrageous’
Babs Marshall (Elaine Collinsi who at the age of 39. Suddenly. desperately longs for a child. Babs searches around for instant sperm-donors. one of whom is her best friend: a gay hairdresser. ‘lt's a serious Subject treated in a funny way. which I think is often better than a heavy drama.‘ says McLean. Go along and see her in the flesh. this remarkable institution. I promise Una McLean WI“ make you laugh. (John Binniei
Steve Retson LGB'I‘ ('entt‘e. l l I)i.\on Street. 221 7203. 5.30 8.30pm. Free. Weekly. (iay men's sexual health advice. (‘ontact 2| I Still l'or appointments. Lesbian Health Clinic Stintlyl'ortl Initiative. Sauchiehall Street. 21 l (i700. 5.30 8pm. Free. Weekly. llealth advice. T.F.l. Bi-G-Les Youth Group l.(iB'l' Centre. ll Dixon Street. 221 7203.
4 8pm. Free. Weekly. Meeting for LGB'I‘ under 25.
Glasgow GOG Badminton (iames Hall. Knightsvvood Secondary School. (i0 Knightsvvood Road. ()54 2404. 7 9.30pm. Weekly.
Glasgow GOC Swimmers (‘oniuei 64‘) 5806. 7.30 9pm. Weekly. Informal swimming session.
LIPS (ilasgoyv Woitten’s Library. I09 'I‘rongate. 552 8345/7530. 2 4pm. Free. Thu I 1 Apr. Fortnightly. Support for lesbians and bisexual women under 25.
Perfect Days (‘iti/ens‘ 'l'lieaire. (iorbals Street. 42‘) 0022. 7.30pm. £10 (£3). Tim I l Sat 20 Apr. l.i/ Lochhcad's delightful comedy about a (ilasgovv hairdresser. her mum and her gay best pal. See that McLean prolile.
T.F.l. Bi-G-Les Youth Group Drop In LUBT ('entre. I l Dixon Street. 22| 7203. 4 Spin. Free. Weekly. For I.(}B'l~ under 25.
Perfect Days Thu l 1 Sat 20 Apr. See Thu.
Singles Night Paisley .-\i-is (‘eniie New Street. 887 mm. 7.30pm. £7 (£3.50). Fri l2 & Sat 13 Apr. For Xena fans. check out Kathy McKean's monologue about a lesbian gladiator.
Abnormals Annonymous (CA. 350 Sauchiehall Street. 352 4900. 9pm 3am. £8 (£0). Fri l2 Apr. Monthly. .\'c\v monthly iiiulti-l'aceted oft-scene e\ent for ’vvcird queers and their straight peei‘s' making full use of the (‘(‘.-\'.s spaces vv ith performance art. music. lilm. his and installations. 'l'his debut night features music from Arctic (‘irc|e. an installation by Alex Kennedy. physical theatre and aerial performance by Lucy 'I‘rend \\ hile [Us HttshPllPP) and (‘ht'is ‘beans' (ieddes supply the tunes.
Gay Rambling Group (‘oniuet 950 I08]. Sat l3 .-\pr. Fortnightly (alternating Sat and Sun). (‘all for more details on meeting places and times.
LIPS (ilasgoyv Women‘s Library. l0‘) 'I'roitgate. 552 3345/7539. 2 4pm. Free. Sat 20 Apr. Fortnightly. Project supporting lesbians and bisexual women under 25. MAST LUB'I'. l l Dixon Street. 22| 7203. 2 5pm. Free. Sat l3 Apr. Monthl}. By appointment only.
OLGA I.(iB'I’. ll Dixon Street. 22l 7203. 2.30 4.30pm. Free. Sat l3 Apr. Monthly. Regular meeting of the Older Lesbians (iet Around group.
Perfect Days 'I‘hu I l Sat 20 Apr. See Thu.
Singles Night to II ts Sat l3 :\pi'. Sec Fri.
Ignorant Fairies (il-‘l‘. Rose Street. 332 Sl2S. 8.30pm (Sun 2.30pm).
£3.75 £4.75 (£2.00 £3.50). Wed 17. Sat 20 tk Stiii 21 Apr. Tale of. love. loss and deception re\o|\ ing around the grow ing fascination between the vs il'c and the male lo\ er of a fatal car crash victim.