The Clinic at King’s Head Theatre

  • Theatre
The Clinic at King’s Head Theatre


Fri, 11/09/2015 - 10:23


Matthew Hodson and Zachariah Fletcher in The Clinic
Matthew Hodson and Zachariah Fletcher in The Clinic
10 September, 2015

PATRICK Cash’s debut play, which is centred around experiences of staff and clients at Soho sexual health clinic 56 Dean Street, explores the lack of intimacy in the “chem sex” scene, where some gay men use specific drugs during sexual encounters. 

Cash presents the dichotomy where the highs from drugs and sex are shared with strangers but the comedown is eased through a loving community of sexual health workers, including Shirley (Pretty Miss Cairo), whose beauty clinic doubles up as a sanctuary for burnt-out clubbers. 

Amid this confusion, young escort Ash is looking for romance on dating app Grindr, his tentative relationship with gym-obsessed Elliot is tenderly portrayed by Zachariah Fletcher and Damien Killeen. Fletcher in his baseball cap and low-slung vest is the picture perfect image of a Vauxhall clubber, his delicate and understated performance is stand out.

When, after a four-day bender, he curls his small frame around Shirley it is heartbreaking. 

The format of combining monologues, projected pre-recorded interviews and poetry felt disjointed at times. However, projecting real-time Grindr messages was a treat as the audience could watch honest messages typed, deleted and replaced with the more explicit but less intimate language of “takeaway hook-ups”.

There’s an interesting underlying clash between generations; those men, including health worker Ryan (loosely based on David Stuart, the Lead Substance Use Advisor at 56 Dean Street), who remember the fear, shame and prejudice of the 80s Aids epidemic; and the current chem sex scene that appear to play recklessly with their sexual health. The play posits that a lingering shame over gay sex fuels chem sex orgies.

The success of the play, and the larger gay season at the King’s Head, must give artistic director Adam Spreadbury Maher a clear signal that these stories are not only popular but there’s a huge audience for them.


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