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A CurtainUp London Review
My Night with Reg
Jonathan Broadbent plays Guy, a rather geeky but likeable host who fusses round his guests and cooks for them. Geoffrey Streatfeild is the ebullient Daniel who besides being Reg's live in partner is the high camp life and soul of the party . Julian Ovenden is John, an attractive man Guy has worshipped since university.
Guy's housewarming is the reason for their meeting in the first act. A pretty conservatory is filled with plants and the very attractive and young Eric (Lewis Reeves) is putting finishing touches to the paintwork. It was the night they couldn't open the champagne as first Dan tried, then John and finally Guy who handed it back to Dan for whom the cork broke off. This unscripted moment saw genuine mirth all round. Dan's toasts were sexually explicit and very funny, for instance"Gross Indecency"and"Sodomy". All three men are very different characters, Guy is socially awkward but anxious to please and his knitting is a running joke, John looks beautiful and seems caught up in his own thoughts and Daniel is personality plus with loads of sexual double entendre in a flying visit.
In the second act, Guy is offering people refreshments after Reg's funeral. Daniel is mourning his partner but plenty of others also have reasons to miss Reg although they do not want Dan to know why. Two new characters are introduced, men in suits with close cropped hair, Benny (Mark Bardock) and the very tedious, so boring that you actually start to feel pity for him, Bernie (Richard Cant). Guy bravely talks to everybody in between looking after stuff in the kitchen. In the final act, there has been another funeral and this time we lose one of the original actors.
Twenty years after it was first produced My Night With Reg still delights with the zapping one liners and an affectionate portrait of these gay men alongside the spectre of AIDS picking off their friends and lovers in four years from 1985. Director Robert Hastie brings out the light and shade in a natural and believable way. Jonathan Broadbent takes the acting honours as Guy, complex and sensitive, still in love with John and displacing with cookery. The poignancy of his housewarming gifts of cookery books, "Solo Banquets" and another cooking for one volume, hurt as they expose his loneliness. My Night With Reg is delightful comedy tinged with sadness and brimful with human emotion and stands the test of time.
For a look at Curtainup's review of the 1997 production of the play by the New Group go here .
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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