MY GAY BEST FRIEND
Racquelle Rooster has locked herself in the ladies, about to perform her very first karaoke. Her gay best friend isn’t there to support her, as he’s sitting in lesbian couple’s walk-in wardrobe, about to do his business with a turkey baster…
MY GAY BEST FRIEND is a heart-warming, ultimately moving exploration of friendship, co-written and performed by Nigel Fairs and Louise Jameson.
It was first performed in 2012, when it won an Argus Angel Award during the Brighton Festival, and has since been performed around the world, including Off Broadway and Chicago.
“A raunchy, randy, ribald and exceptionally rude drama that makes us squirm and chortle in equal measure”
Kind of like a “Sex Encounters of the Closet Kind” exploration of straight-on-queer relationships, My Gay Best Friend takes no prisoners when it comes to letting it all hang out. Written and performed by Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs we have a raunchy, randy, ribald and exceptionally rude drama that makes us squirm and chortle in equal measure.
Jameson plays Rachel (AKA Raquel Rooster) a middle-aged, briefly-married Boots beauty-counter assistant for whom life has pretty much passed her by without so much as a by-your-leave or thanks-for-coming. A chance encounter, via an accidental-nail- polish incident, with cleaner Gavin (AKA Wanker for Wolverhampton) leads to an unlikely and affectionate relationship between these two lost souls swimming aimlessly around an empty fish-bowl.
We start at the end – Gavin has persuaded Rachel to take part in a karaoke event and when he doesn’t turn up to lend moral support she locks herself in the ladies, desperately trying to reach him on the ’phone. Gavin, meantime,
having forgotten about the event, is ensconced in the bathroom of his lesbian neighbour, George, and is forlornly engaged in the process that will provide George and her partner the necessary requisites to produce her own baby. Gavin’s mobile is off: Rachel is going apeshit.
Through a series of monologues, some hilarious, some movingly touching, we learn about the pretty mundane existences of these two loners and they also re-enact the greatest hits of their unusual relationship. It’s both funny and sad and the parallel narratives of their disparate lives are cleverly woven together and skilfully performed.
As Rachel, Jameson grabs you by the crotch and embarks on a full-frontal assault on any snowflake tendencies that might be lurking in your emotional make-up. She’s witty and crude, savage and crass, and likably hateful as she angrily deconstructs the men in her life – father, “uncle”, husband – and the scars they have left on her permanently bruised psyche. She ain’t no wallflower but you can’t help feeling that, behind the bravado, under the fragile skin of feminine-machismo, she’d dearly love to be. Gay Gavin, who becomes her best friend, offers her a lifeline, but it’s a tentative, badly-fraying lifeline at best.
Jameson’s is an extraordinarily edgy and visceral performance by an actor at the top of her game, someone who is intent on pushing the barriers to uncover the depths of character that lurk beneath the mask of facial
For this to come off in all its gory glory Jameson needs a straight man: in this case it’s a gay straight man, Gavin, played with affecting warmth and self-deprecating humour by Fairs. Gavin is a professional apologist – he was late in coming to terms with his sexuality, he lost his partner, he’s not a very good cleaner, for a queer guy he’s got no fashion sense, and he’s very sorry but, basically, porn does nothing for him. He does, though, have a “listening face” and is able to provide unexpected succour for a washed-up, ranty Boots assistant – for a while, anyway. Until, that is – and he’s very sorry about this – he meets lesbian George and her glamorous film-star partner – and Rachel feels she’s lost him – which makes the panic in the ladies before her karaoke debut even more real.
Jameson and Fairs together – who have worked with each other before – are a wonder to behold – a truly evocative tour de force brought to resonant life in the intimate confines of the Hope Theatre stage. Director Veronica Roberts is canny enough to let these two have their head whilst gently reining them in when they start to get too OTT. The direction is thus subtle but positive letting the pair’s intuitive magic speak for itself whilst retaining the necessary grip on the meandering narrative. It works well and is first class entertainment.
LONDON THEATRE 1, January 2018
“Intimate and emotionally engaging study of an unlikely friendship”
Rachel and Gavin are best friends. Initially they appear to have little in common as Gavin is a good listener and Rachel can talk for England.
They bond over singing lessons but as Rachel prepares to take to the stage, Gavin is nowhere to be seen. Through a series of monologues the authors gradually reveal the extraordinary depth of their affection and the ties that bind them together.
Written by real-life pals Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs, My Gay Best Friend presents the hidden complexity behind what might be otherwise perceived as a cliched relationship. The lyrical dialogue gently exposes elements of their past, which in turn informs their friendship. Both have suffered loss or abuse and because of this, they are desperately wary of trusting men again, despite an evident longing.
It helps immensely that the authors are also the actors. Both Jameson and Fairs turn in delicately nuanced performances enhancing the bittersweet tone of the play. Fairs as Gavin is witty and excitable, a twinkle in his eye hinting at the happiness of a past life and a new found hope for the future. Jameson once again proves to be one of the most versatile and emotionally eloquent actors working today. Her Rachel is gobby and abrasive but damaged too and terrified of letting her guard down and being hurt again.
My Gay Best Friend may be a short play but it’s tightly directed by Veronica Roberts and delivers a satisfying, if slightly sentimental, conclusion.
THE STAGE, January 2018
“A masterclass in physical acting, in an important play that’s an excellent commentary on relationships”
Louise Jameson and Nigel Fairs rip your heart apart and sew it back together in the heartfelt, touching and truly hilarious My Gay Best Friend. The entire story reads as one scene, despite many different flashbacks and memories being told by the characters, weaving with a seamless organic flow into the narrative, never seeming forced or awkward. Both Jameson and Fairs present a masterclass in physical acting, adding motion and movement to their characters’ natural air, quickening or slowing their strides and speech depending on the pace of the plot, and changing their body language with each other depending on the nature of the characters’ relationship at the time. While the title focuses on Gavin’s sexuality, the play is also an excellent commentary on relationships in general, be they family, friend, or romantic, and truly strike a chord within each tale. An important play to watch at this time, commenting on sexuality, its political place in our institutions as well as our personal relationships.
CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL, January 2018