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A CurtainUp London Review
Hot Gay Time Machine

— Zak and Toby
Hot Gay Time Machine
Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow (Photo: Pamela Raith)
Following their success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and 2018, Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow have transported their Hot Gay Time Machine into the Trafalgar Studios for a limited run over the festive period. Writers and composers Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, who directs here, are the pair behind the show Six about Henry VIII's wives review.

From the very moment the doors opened, the effervescent Zak and Toby broke the fourth wall, immersed themselves into an unsuspecting crowd and let us know that this show was most definitely about them. As the audience took their seats and were welcomed aboard the Time Machine by the energetic duo, a frantic mega-mix of songs from musical theatre shows, gay icons and pop divas pumped into the studio. It was at this point, I knew that this was not going to be like any other musical cabaret I had been to. Zak and Toby exuded confidence and charm as they mingled with the audience, greeting everyone as if they had known them for years. I was even affectionately introduced to Toby's family, who were in attendance, as his "best friend/boyfriend/husband". This warm, personal audience interaction continued throughout the show but never once felt forced or judgemental.

Hot Gay Time Machine is an over-the-top musical journey of significant events throughout the lives of best friends, Zak and Toby. Whether they are singing about coming out to their mothers, having to play football in PE at school or their first sexual experiences; each song has been intelligently written, with melodies so catchy that they sound as if you've heard them before. Especially for their run at the Trafalgar Studios, the pair let us know that they had done a small rewrite of the show for Christmas with a few little festive jokes added in. These jokes were subtle, understated but very apt and I couldn't help myself from laughing at them. Even when it came to slowing the pace down for the more sincere moments of the show, the writing did not take itself seriously for too long and came right back with that same energy and humour as before. I can imagine that many people who will come to this show will be able to relate to the experience of Zak and Toby, even if they have been exaggerated. Did I mention all of this fits neatly into a running time of 75 minutes?

The show's set and costume design is simple but well suited to the show. A silver metallic shimmer curtain runs across the length of the back wall with big, pink letters reading the show's abbreviated name: HGTM. Even Beyoncé herself makes an appearance in the form of two cardboard cut outs, formally named "Beyoncé" and "Bey-twice". On the stage, there is a keyboard (at which Toby plays expertly throughout), two pink microphone stands and a pink stool. And of course, Zak and Toby wear co-ordinating outfits that are mixture of pink, white and denim, with a finishing touch of matching leopard print plimsolls.
For what this show might lack in terms of flashy set design or costume changes, it makes up for with its joyful songs, fierce dance breaks and the hilarious personalities of Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow. By the time it ends you cannot help but want to be their best friend and join in with their finale dance party!

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Hot Gay Time Machine
Written by Zak Ghazi-Torbati, Toby Marlow, Lucy Moss
Directed by Lucy Moss
Starring: Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow
Lighting Designer: Alistair Lindsay
Design Consultant: Anna Reid
Running time: 75 minutes, no interval
Box Office: 0844 871 7632
Booking to 5th January 2019
Reviewed by Reece George based on 1st December 2018 performance at the Trafalgar Studios 2, 14 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2DY (Rail/Tube: Charing Cross)
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