There are a lot of plays out there about chemsex. In fact, there are so many that you could be forgiven for thinking that chemically enhanced sex is the be-all and end-all of physical relations. Of course, this isn’t true and the majority of the plays explore the dark sides of chemsex and its negative effect on those that try it. So, we have a very dark subject that can be amazingly depressing and is seen in loads of different shows. What’s next for chemsex you might think. Well, I popped along to the Queer Festival at the King’s Head Theatre to find out as they were staging a new show Happy – a Chemsex Musical.
Let’s start out by saying, I’m not going to tell you too much about the plot for this very intriguing two-hander show. Writers Thom Sellwood and Carrie Marx, have produced a story within a story that really explores two very basic concepts – what does it take to make someone happy and how do you break the cycle when the happiness is not as good as it was? On the face of it, these are simple questions but really they are amazingly deep. The story explores the concepts from the point of view of a single gay man, in his house desperately scrolling through the apps looking for something/or someone to share some time with – an occupation that, I’m sure resonated with the majority of single people in the audience. As the play progresses, the story gets darker and you start to realise just how much of a broken individual is on the stage in front of you.
In many ways, Happy – a Chemsex Musical is a monologue and Thom dominates the stage masterfully holding the audience onto every word he speaks and throwing ideas out that may not be nice to hear but can really spark up a conversation after the show. However, this is not a one-man show and it would be a foolish reviewer that underestimates the performance of Carrie Max who is a charismatic actress with a lovely singing voice and a great personality to match. Moving to the songs, there seemed to be a problem with the sound levels but, from what I heard of the words, the songs were really well written and quite emotional at times.
I think for me, the most interesting point was around the relationship between words. Particularly the words, happy, unhappy and sad. Thoms makes a very good point about the lack of a fourth word to make this a cohesive quartet of descriptors. This was something I had never thought of before but discussing it with my companion of the evening in the bar afterwards we both agreed it was an interesting point.
To sum up then. If you are heading to see Happy – a Chemsex Musical expecting big chorus numbers and jazz hands then you will be disappointed. If you are hoping to see an interesting and thought-provoking show that raises questions you may not be able to answer, then you will be in your element.
Review by Terry Eastham
Set against the backdrop of the London chemsex scene a man is trying to reconnect with the world. If he can.
He has an idea for a show. He just needs someone to see it. Someone to believe in him again. Having alienated the people close to him he needs an audience more than ever.
Happy is a musical play examining hope when hope is hard to find; the gap between our dreams and our abilities and what it really means to try to be happy when it just doesn’t come naturally to you.
Contains strong language and drug use.
Happy – a Chemsex Musical
Booking to 26th August 2017