Kevin Elyot's My Night with Reg touches a nerve in the year of his death 2014
“The sound of his own vice”
Kevin Elyot’s witty play, My Night With Reg gets a brilliant revival at the Donmar Warehouse with an impressive cast. This is the play in which the audience never gets to meet Reg, unlike everyone else who seems to have been intimately involved with him, in this play about AIDS and the community it decimated.
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, in a flying visit, is personality plus with loads of sexual double entendre.
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.
Re-review on transfer to the Apollo. Shaftesbury Avenue. January 2015
The cast remain the same and the performances are as good as ever from these talented actors under Robert Hastie’s direction. You will debate whether it is better to lie or be open about a dead person’s infidelity. Which would do more damage? How long should you carry a torch for unrequited love? The emotions generated by Kevin Elyot’s play will stay with you long after seeing My Night with Reg.
Kevin Elyot died in 2014 so do not miss this brilliant revival of one of his expertly written plays which is relevant to universal sexual orientation.
My Night with Reg
Written by Kevin Elyot
Directed by Robert Hastie
Director: Robert Hastie
Designer: Peter McKintosh
Lighting Designer: Paul Pyant
Sound Designer: Gregory Clarke
Running Time: Two hours without an interval
Closed at the Donmar on 27th September 2014
The Donmar Warehouse
41 Earlham Street
London WC2H 9LX
Phone: 020 7359 4404
Tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the Donmar on 7th August 2014
Production Notes at the Apollo as above
My Night with Reg
Running time: One hour 55 minutes
without an interval
Box Office: 0844 482 9671
Closed on 11th April 2015 at the Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on
24th January 2015 performance
at the Apollo.
My Night with Reg will be showing
at the Turbine Theatre
from 21st July to 21st August 2021