REVIEW: Hot Gay Time Machine
The bliss began before the show even properly started. As early ticket collectors milled, a Karaoke Adele-aping “hello” came from behind the theatre door. We were soon treated to an off-the-cuff Just Dance, and a brilliantly slide-y pre-show rendition of Beyoncé’s Halo, devil-horned in melisma. When they couldn’t wait any longer, our double-act Zak Ghazi-Torbati and Toby Marlow impatiently burst through into the waiting area, chivvying the box office and helloing again their already-admirers. In tight-fitting leopard prints, Cleopatra mascara, and rainbow shoes and socks. Obviously.
When I saw the set with its life-size cardboard Beyoncé, rainbow flags, and tassel-y silver strips (kind of like a disco-ready Hawaiian skirt), I knew that the Corpus Playroom and its multicoloured lights provided the perfect venue.
And if that wasn’t enough, just for those jaded world-weary souls who don’t give their heart so easily, the duo skipped amongst the audience in their campy glory, personally greeting everyone, singing, dancing (amateur in the way that Bridget Jones singing All By Myself is amateur: flawlessly choreographed), dragging the front rows up, and – of course – wise-cracking. (Very wise in fact. They saw me with my file. “Are you doing homework? Can we see? You’re not reviewing us, are you? Oh my god he’s given us five stars!” They knew before I did).
Every joke landed like a cat from a mid-storey building: miraculously! Time-travelling through the milestones of sexual self-discovery in their lives, we were treated to a joyous and impeccably timed cannonade of everything you could want: hilarious songs, with genuinely brilliant vocals accompanied by genuinely brilliant playing on the “hot gay music machine” (i.e. piano), and a non-stop cascade of Carry On-style dad jokes. As in, your-old-man jokes. As in, penis puns, that come (you guessed it) thick and fast.
Like the best comedy, the tone can zip from hilarious obscenity to surprisingly hefty emotional resonance. We go from a number on impotence, to the different feel of a really-funny-but-I-nearly-cried-for-a-second song on the emotional impotence felt when coming out. The same sensitive modulations mark their performances. Zak capitalises upon his height (Miranda Hart huggable vs. Hulkish and hilariously pumped), and Toby spends much of the show either licking his lips or spilling things from them he gets told off for. But they just embody great acting. When the two have a heart-to-heart over internalised homophobia, I heard someone draw in their breath at Toby’s voice-crack, and I knew I wasn’t the only one who wanted to give them Oscars. Afterwards, I sneakily hung by the exit. “That is the most accurate representation of anything I’ve ever seen!”, “I wanted to dance as well”, and, “That was amazing” is a representative sample of just some of the quotes I got.
In fact, my only question is how Farce-ity magazine could have been so Scrooge-like, giving them only 4 1⁄2 stars. What a treat, what a joy! How lucky, that a show made for the West End (it already had a rave run at the Edinburgh Fringe) is played in our little pocket of the East. I’m writing this, ashamed I didn’t let them look at my notes to begin with. I’m sure they’d write a far better notice than I could. They deserve all possible plaudits, superlatives and bouquets showered their way.
See it while you can! I’ll just take your ticket otherwise and watch it again myself.
***** (5 stars)