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Guy: A new Musical at The King’s Head Theatre

Guy: A new Musical (c) www.toriabrightside
Guy: A new Musical (c) www.toriabrightside

Guy, or to give it it’s full title Guy A New Musical is exactly what it says, a new musical about a chap called Guy, and I got a chance to see it recently when it touched down for a limited stopover at the Kings Head Theatre.

This is the story of Guy (Brendan Matthew) a single gay man living in Manchester. Like many people, Guy is looking for love and spends many a hopeful hour trying to find Mr Right, or even Mr Right-Now via Grindr. Unfortunately for Guy he is overweight and doesn’t match the physical characteristics so beloved of many Grindr users. He spends a lot of his time being rejected – everything from “you’re not my type” to verbal abuse. His flatmate Tyler (Steve Banks) tries to reassure him that his physical appearance is fine and he is the sort of person everyone should meet at least once in their life, but Guy thinks the only way he can become attractive to others is by changing his appearance. This idea is reinforced when Guy catfishes a new profile and suddenly finds people interested in him. Determined to change his body, Guy heads to the gym where he meets Dom (Adam Braidley) a personal trainer with an attitude and an inflated sense of his self-worth and a paralegal called Aziz (Seann Miley Moore) who has a mind as beautiful as his body. With all this effort Guy is putting in, will he find true love or is he destined to spend his life alone with only giant bars of chocolate for company?

Now it has to be said, the idea of a musical about a fat gay guy trying to find love doesn’t necessarily sound like a crowd pleaser but, somehow, Guy works. For a start, the writing is spot on. Being an older gay guy who is – to use the vernacular – a super-chub, I can easily vouch for the veracity of Guy’s Grindr life. Book writer and lyricist Leoe Mercer and composer/arranger Stephen Hyde have captured app life really well and created some very realistic characters not only with Guy, Tyler, Dom and Aziz, but with the many other characters Guy comes into contact with. The songs were nicely done and really added to the narrative. I particularly liked “Ho to Hopeless Romantic” again one that resonated with me. In fact, some of the elements of the story were a little too close to my own life for comfort and I really became emotionally involved in the story – to the point where there were moments that I just wanted to wipe my eyes and run up to the stage and give Guy a massive hug. The interesting thing about the writing – aside from the twist in the end – is the way certain people have been made understandable. For example, Dom is a loathsome, narcissistic, racist, bigot and yet, in some respects, he is one of the most honest of all the characters. As he says of his, quite frankly, offensive profile on what he is and isn’t looking for, at least he is honest, ensuring that nobody gets a false expectation of him.

Of course, a lot of this reaction is due to the acting and with Guy, the cast were totally right. Whether playing their main character or – in the case of Adam, Steve and Sean – playing multiple characters, each one came across really well. There is even a moment when Adam Braidley plays two Grindr users talking to each other and somehow he makes both feel real. Special credit has to go to Brendan Matthews in the role of Guy. The character could appear really pathetic but, the actor needs to make the audience feel sympathy towards him and Brendan really does that well.

Overall then, Guy A New Musical ticked a lot of boxes for me. To my mind it’s not perfect and was slightly too long – If I was Director Leoe Mercer, I would be looking at chopping some of the dance scenes down a bit – and there were a few problems with the sound but overall, this is a really good look at life lived among the apps. Not only is it very entertaining, it is also a really good lesson to every shallow, judgemental person that logs on. Don’t just judge by the pic and profile, because if you do, you just might miss out on the love of your life.

4 stars

Review by Terry Eastham

Guy is a gay millennial looking for love. Guy is fat, nerdy and shy. Guy feels like he doesn’t fit into the gay community. But when a rejection on Grindr pushes Guy to make terrible life choices, he is forced to confront his inner demons, all the while pushing away everyone close to him. With 12 heart-pounding electronic-pop anthems, this millennial odyssey through bingeing, gyming, prejudice, hookups, beauty standards, and stolen identity is a much-needed reminder that the only person you can be is yourself.

August 28th – September 1st, King’s Head Theatre

GUY: A New Musical
Music Stephen Hyde
Lyrics & Book Leoe Mercer
Producer leoe&hyde
Cast Brendan Matthew
Seann Miley Moore
Steve Banks
Adam Braidley

King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, London, N1 1QN


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