Naked Boys (with Joan Collins) in New York
Where: Inner London
2 November 2001 WOS Rating: Average Reader Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews In the same week that Kiss Me Kate arrived in the West End from Broadway, Naked Boys Singing has shamelessly followed it from off-Broadway, where it has also been running for the last two years.
This over-priced, under-dressed show (top price is £25, for a show that runs barely an hour and therefore, at least, doesn't outstay its welcome), has to be a contender for the truth-in-advertising award. In a show conceived by Robert Schrock that has taken him and no less than 12 other writers to put together, a cast of seven variously endowed talents zip through a cabaret-style revue of 15 brisk numbers, almost all of which are performed in the buff.
The opening song, with its promise of a show that offers no prudity or crudity just "Gratuitous Nudity" and likewise lives up to its title, sets the pace. Subsequent songs, most of them inevitably in comic vein, variously celebrate the joys of offering nude cleaning for a living and being a perky little porn star from Illinois (with, as played here, the smallest little pecker in the company). One or two more pleasingly reflective songs, like "Window to Window" and "Nothin' But the Radio On", provide a different kind of relief to the one promised in "I Beat My Meat" (whose pay-off is a joke so feeble that I cringe to remember it). For anyone who saw the recent Michael Clark Dance Company's far more explicit portrait of masturbation, there's inevitably an air of déjà vu, not to say puerility, to it.
In fact, the whole evening has the air of something juvenile in its mostly innocent celebration of male, and mostly gay, sexuality. As presented at the indescribably grubby Madame JoJo's - a venue so grotty that it makes you pine with nostalgia for the King's Head - there's an added irony. Usually a drag bar where boys want to be girls, here the boys are showing what makes them men. The likeable company put the musical numbers across with verve, not to say nerve, and are entirely comfortable in their nudity. But it goes without saying that their penises are entirely resistant to any notions of adhering to Julie Armstrong's choreography.
For a gay man like me who likes nothing better than listening to showtunes and seeing naked men, this should be just the ticket. But I can listen to my CDs and check out the view in the showers at my gym (another gay phenomenon that makes an appearance here) every morning for free. This show is strictly for those who either don't get out much, or don't otherwise get it much.
Mark Shenton Related Content
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