A sharp, thought-provoking and timely production, “The Boys Are Kissing” explores the complexities of disagreement in the XXIst century. From parenting concepts to LGBTQ+ issues – we are thrown into a camp, ridiculous set of arguments, with a dash of supernatural involvement. It’s a show that goes above and beyond with humour, but it’s also self-aware. It must have been the most fun night I’ve had in a theatre in a long while.
“The Boys Are Kissing” now offer a livestream! See details at the bottom of the post.
Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing “Eureka Day” at the Old Vic – a play about school children’s parents having a civilised discussion (at first) that ended in a crazy fight and calling each other nazis. Since then, I was craving something even more outrageous and fun. And it seems like my stagey prayers have been answered in a form of this sleek writing debut by Zak Zarafshan.
“The Boys Are Kissing” also includes some school parents committee vibe, and yes… there is one random nazi comment, at the very beginning of the show. And it only gets more tense and intriguing from there. Amira and her wife Chloe moved to a peaceful town with their 9-year-old son Samir and another child on the way. But when Samir and his friend Lucas kiss at school, the community’s reaction is strong, and the boys’ parents are uncertain of how to handle the situation. The parental Whatsapp Group blows up, the community splits into two opposed groups and drama at the birthday party arises. Meanwhile, two heavenly guardians of the LGBTQ+ community arrive to intervene and use their unusual skills to bring balance to the families. But is it even possible?
In Zarafshan’s timely and hysterical comedy, polite debate descends into ideological warfare, showcasing the holes in a theoretically liberal community. Beneath its broadsides, the play has a serious-minded core which truly shines by the end of the second act. We meet the grown-up versions of Samir and Lucas and listen to the confession they give, about the impact their childhood had on them. This scene delivers a sudden emotional stab, that I haven’t expected from such a seemingly light, fun comedy. The script is balanced – with scenes of discussions on children’s sexuality, but also unexpected dance scenes with Britney Spears playing in the background.
In the first act, I had a feeling that the action is diverting too much from the main topic, as the action included some seemingly disconnected personal backstories of every character. But I must say, I underestimated the concept. In act 2, the little time jumps slowly linking every scene into an ending that makes the story look complete. Can we please get more new writing like this in 2023?
The cast is an absolute pleasure to watch.
Shane Convery and Kishore Walker, as two Cherubs, grab everyone’s attention from the moment they enter the stage. With their sassy, impression-leaving moves, and a flirty wink of an eye, they are both perfectly cast. As the show progresses, they also perform roles of family members, like Matt’s late father or Amira’s mother. I especially enjoyed Walker’s quick change into adult Samir – this calm, pragmatic married man with deeply hidden traumas and issues is such a contrast with the sarcastic Cherub. Meanwhile, as the other Cherub, Convery brings energy and ridiculous humour with them and maintains this joyful, clever performance even while sitting quietly at the side of the stage.
Seyan Sarvan as Amira brings that “perfect, mature mom” vibes into her role, and has a natural presence that commands attention. Amy McAllister, partnering with her as Sarah, creates a memorable, goofy performance and is incredibly natural in the most emotional (think: crying and messing up makeup) scenes.
Aldo Vazquez’s stage set is not what I would expect in a pub theatre. With added wallpapered walls and hidden surprises, like sliding secret windows and unexpected entrance spots, this is a playground for fresh, surprising movement and tons and tons of fun.
“The Boys Are Kissing” is a show that goes a bit above and beyond with humour and camp, but it’s also self-aware – which makes it even better! Rarely, a debut seems so fully baked and ready for (let me say it) West End audiences. It’s a comedy that will leave that lingering “what would I do” question in your mind for a long time. It felt incredibly personal, even to a non-parent like myself.
PS. Zak, give the Old Vic a call. If they staged Eureka Day, there might be a spot for you as well.
from 7.30pm on 7 March (and is then available for one month)
The Boys Are Kissing
Venue: Theatre503, Above the Latchmere, 503 Battersea Park Road, London, SW11 3BW
Dates: 17 January – 4 February 2023
Tuesdays to Saturdays + Monday 23 January at 7.30pm
+ 2.30pm on Saturdays 28 January, 4 February
+ 12 noon on Weds 1 February
Parent & Baby matinee: Weds 1 February, 12pm
Pay What You Choose matinees: 28 January, 4 February, 2.30pm
Tickets: £20/£14 / 6 x £6 tickets for every show after previews
Box office: www.theatre503.com / 020 7978 7040
Writer – Zak Zarafshan
Director – Lisa Spirling
Set + Costume Designer – Aldo Vazquez
Lighting Designer – Jo Underwood
Sound Designer – Calum Perrin
Movement Director – Mateus Daniel
Associate Director – Len Gwyn/Len Blanco
Costume Supervisor – Malena Arcucci
Casting Director – Emily Jones
Rehearsal Room Stage Manager – Rose Hockaday
Stage Manager – Summer Keeling
Assistant Stage Manager on Placement – Rebecca Elsey
Production Manager – Tabitha Piggott