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Sunday, April 21, 2024

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Joe DiPietro’s F**KING MEN, returns to the capital for a 6 week run!

It’s been fifteen years since Fucking Men enjoyed its London premiere and the show has made frequent returns to the capital. Next month, a slightly updated version will enjoy a final-ever run at Waterloo East Theatre and writer Joe DiPietro tells GLL where he got the inspiration for his smash play.

Like many writers before me, I’ve always been fascinated by Arthur Schnitzler’s classic play La Ronde. Ten characters. Ten scenes. Ten dances in and out of bed (or in and out of broom closets. Or saunas. Or wherever.) It’s been adapted quite a few times before, with my favorites being Michael John LaChiusa’s time-jumping musical (Hello Again) and David Hare’s scaled-down duet (The Blue Room), which was a Broadway hit in part due to star Nicole Kidman’s fleeting moment of nudity. But if an all-male La Ronde existed, I had never heard of it.

Then one summer while vacationing in the gay mecca of Provincetown, thoughts of La Ronde kept popping into my head. Day by sunny day, I observed the roundelay that we gay dudes do in pursuit of sex — on the beach, in the bars or simply strolling down the streets of a town preternaturally brimming with homosexuals. Many of us would hook-up — for better or for worse — with an abandon and frequency that would cause my straight friends’ jaws to drop when I’d tell them about it. Appropriately, I began writing the play in Provincetown and I didn’t exactly have to go to the library to do research.

Truthfully, I didn’t think anyone would be interested in producing the play (so I thought what the hell, I’ll give it an un-producible title.) After all, the gay-themed narratives of the day were usually driven by what I call the gay-play trifecta: shame, self-loathing and suffering. But a testosterone-fueled new take on La Ronde seemed to offer a much more appealing — and at the time, radical — gay narrative: men who weren’t ashamed of the sex they were pursuing. In fact, they rather enjoyed it. And it became an important part of who they were.

Fucking Men debuted 15 years ago in a London theatre even tinier than this one and to my happy astonishment, the play ran and ran and spurred myriad other productions. And I’m thrilled that Steve Kunis’ terrific production has returned for an encore to Waterloo East.

Of course over the years, much has changed in the sex lives of gay men, from the development of highly effective HIV medications to the introduction of PrEP enabling a sexual freedom not truly seen since the early 1980s.

So when producer Adam Roebuck asked if I’d be interested in reviving Fucking Men, I jumped at the chance with one condition — I wanted to find a young director who could challenge me to refocus the play through a modern lens.

He recommended the brilliant Steven Kunis, and Steven and I have since spent many hours dissecting every issue from generational self- identification (gay? queer?) to the pros and cons of hook-up apps (in my day, we had to actually put on clothes and go out to a bar to get laid, which apparently renders me a bit of a relic.)

A youthful friend recently asked how much has changed for gay men since I came of age in the 80s. I told him a lot, of course, but also not much at all. Then as now, we still use sex as a means of connection and expression and love. So no matter how you identify, I hope you recognize some moments of common humanity in the play. And I highly recommend a trip to Provincetown.

Fucking Men, Saturday 13th April to Sunday 26th May, Waterloo East Theatre, Brad Street, SE1 8TN, Nearest Station: Waterloo, buy tickets at waterlooeast.co.uk

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