The title of Tom Wright’s new play, ‘Undetectable’ indicates that it is yet another queer play about men living in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. It is of course exactly that, but it’s also a lot more and a lot more intimate than some of the bigger, similar plays seen in London recently.
Undetectable is about telling the truth; it’s about sexual intimacy and the boundaries that exist within the gay community; it’s about popular culture; society and forbidden love; chemsex and addiction, along with the importance of communication.
Naked for pretty much the entire play, the two actors deliver Wright’s characters Bradley (Lewis Brown) and Lex (Freddie Hogan) with significant enthusiasm and energy. Both handle the sometimes-shocking content with maturity and confidence, the organic development of the pair’s relationship progressing as the performance settled into the space.
It is clearly no coincidence that Director and Designer, Rikki Beadle-Blair staged the production on a stage like a boxing ring. With the two characters sparing back and forth throughout. Both seem comfortable in the other’s presence and the trust between their naked physicality is palpable.
There is no doubt that this play will be many things to many people and there are of course some very powerful messages contained within the text and questions that need to be answered, the relationship between the modern gay community and it’s not so distant history being one of them. Character, Bradley announces within the play that he is the “envy of generations of ghosts” and maybe he’s not wrong. The post-chemsex generation certainly has a lot to achieve if it is going to survive.
However, despite the pretty much constant nudity this play is anything but stripped back. In desperate need of editing there is a real risk that the core values of what Wright hoped to achieve could be lost on the audience who may be left a little exhausted by so much information in such a short space of time.
That said, this piece carries a lot of promise and really opens the vulnerability of the gay community to a wider audience. Undetectable continues at King’s Head Theatre. London until 6th April. https://goo.gl/LZ84Yr
Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin
Reviewed: 19th March 2019
North West End Rating: ★★★