Ever since the television hit Queer as Folk, Canal Street has become a familiar setting/topic in entertainment, often portrayed as a glamorous, hedonistic way of life for the gay club scene. What makes Undone stand out from the crowd is the cautionary tale about the Village and the stereotypical gay lifestyle, a warning about excess and that behind the glitter can often lie a darkness that can easily swallow you up.
The play tells the story of Dex, an attractive young guy who lives for his nights in the village along with his best friend, but a chance meeting with Austin, a young man who’s just coming to terms with his own sexuality offers him a glimpse of something that could change his life forever, but will he see that or will he succumb to the world that has taken hold of him for so long.
Writer/Director Chad McGitchie clearly has a great understanding of the subject matter and takes us skilfully on a journey into this world. We are given an education in the lifestyle by Charlie, a flamboyant creature of the night who reveals the insights in to everything from sex to drugs, whilst dressed in bright clothes with his bleached blonde hair, something dark lingers beyond the surface, and it’s this darkness that is ever present that raises Undone above typical ‘Gay Theatre’.
The cast are incredible. Steven Pilling as Dex, handles his role with great skill, especially in Act Two when his character starts to unravel, his scenes away from the nightlife are delivered with such heart that you root for him to change and find his way.
Hollyoaks actor Stephen Beard is a revelation in the role of Austin, the young man who could change everything. His performance is honest and heartfelt and perfectly awkward. Meredith McGrath has great energy as the best friend Bex, but the show stealer of the night is Daniel Van Garret as Charlie. In this flamboyant role, he brings passion to every moment and he commands the stage to the point that you cannot take your eyes off him. Cleverly he knows where the campness of the role ends and the urgency of the character begins and balances this with total ease.
Undone is brutal and unapologetic, but it’s this that makes it so wonderfully fresh. Based on this brave and uncompromising piece, McGitchie is an exciting new writer, whose work I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the future.