Review: Homos, Or Everyone In America (Finborough Theatre)

Jordan Seavey’s play makes its European premiere at the west London theatre

Harry McEntire and Tyrone Huntley
Harry McEntire and Tyrone Huntley
© Marc Brenner

There's huge ambition in Jordan Seavey's epic American odyssey about the intricacies and delicacies of one gay, modern relationship. In fact, even though it focuses in on one couple – called only The Academic and The Writer – it could be seen as an overarching depiction of love, life, homosexuality and relationships in the noughties. It reaches pretty far.

Jumping back and forward in time, we are fed tiny snippets of conversation, snatched moments from The Writer and The Academic's time together, which are eventually woven into a broad, colourful tapestry. Throughout the course of the play, each scene is extended and elongated and we begin to understand their meaning with added context. We watch as the couple first meet, with The Writer puking three times on their first date, to their discussions over inviting a third person into their relationship, to jealous arguments and quiet, emotional discussions.

Homos is essentially a relationship on stage, one that is formed, grows and developed in front of our very eyes. Seavey's trying to show the complexities of what it means to be gay today, but also just what it means to love. The problem is that it gets bogged down in anguish and argument. There's too much hand-wringing and moaning for its one hour forty-five runtime. Arguing is not that fun – either to watch or to do – and it does get to a point where you begin to wonder whether this couple do anything else in their downtime. The toing and froing of American political and emotional dissection is constant – doesn't anyone just talk about TV in this relationship? – and fairly exhausting.

That said, the dramatic arc – which peaks in the final section – does deliver and there's a real poignancy and tragedy to the final scenes. And the two performances at the piece's centre are wonderfully convincing. Tyrone Huntley is nuanced as The Academic, while Harry McEntire does well to portray the anxious Jewish Writer, without making the character feel too clichéd. There's great supporting work also from Dan Krikler as the third wheel love interest and Cash Holland as a chirpy bath bomb saleswoman.

Josh Seymour directs the piece with fluidity, although quite why it all takes place on sand remains too elusive. The overpowering smell of bath bombs – the stage is littered with bags of the luridly coloured things, the significance of which only really becomes clear in the final scenes – gets a little sickly and feels like a gimmick. But Seymour makes clear, strong distinction between Seavey's interconnecting, potentially confusing scenes, and ensures the story is told with an easy clarity.

At times, Seavey's play feels self-indulgent, and there's too much of a tendency to labour unnecessarily over the push and pull of romantic paranoia and heartache. But I felt that there is truth in the piece about what it means to be gay in modern America – or anywhere really – and the characters are realistically human, portrayed here in engaging performances.