Photo: Danny Kaan

On paper, Horse-Play sounds like a lot of fun. It focuses on the lives of Tim (David Ames) and Tom (Jake Maskall) who have been together for a decade. Their sex life has become somewhat stale and they decide they’d like to spice things up a bit. Enter Karl (Matt Lapinkas), a male escort the couple have found online; the trio role-play a superhero sexual fantasy until a series of mishaps results in them finding themselves locked in the villain’s lair overnight. The tagline of the show is “they’re about to have the ride of their lives…” so we were expecting something exciting, dangerous, a little risqué perhaps.

Unfortunately it fell rather short of expectations. There are two keys issues: first of all, for a play whose narrative centres on the sexual desires and fantasies of gay men, it all seems extremely vanilla. Precious little actually happens or is even alluded to; yes, sex toys are used to comedic effect, we see some poppers and lube but none of it particularly seems shocking or surprising. The second issue is that, for a comedy, it’s not actually all that funny – it’s mildly amusing throughout, and there are a couple of big laughs, but we saw a lot of the punchlines coming.

It’s not entirely a lost cause, mainly on the strength of the acting – our talented performers make the most of the material here. Of particular note, David Ames is very warm and charming – his characterisation is spot on and his gags are amongst the funniest. We also enjoyed Stephanie Siadatan in her brief role as a cleaner (a scene-stealing cameo) and as Karl’s girlfriend Danielle. Her arrival in the second act is a breath of fresh air and really brings energy to proceedings.

Horse-Play isn’t a complete disaster, it’s just a bit underwhelming. It certainly has promise – it contains many of the ingredients of a great show, we liked the concept, we liked the characters – but the execution is disappointing. It really needs to be a lot bolder and funnier for us to sit up and take notice. What we’re left with is a play that’s reasonably entertaining for a couple of hours, but not one we’d rush out to see again in a hurry.

GAY TIMES gives Horse-Play – 3/5

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