It concerns the relationship of two aging homosexuals in the mid-1960's England, where there existed the constant threat of a Morals Charge; where asking the wrong man to make out could result in two years of jail or at the absolute worst chemical castration. A terrible time indeed. This is an old school gay play of the Boys in the Band mold, where the characters are compelled to be who there are but hate themselves and society for their exclusion. It makes for a kind of period piece of a play. The gay pride movement has banished this kind of simpering self pity to the shadows where it rightfully belongs. That is not to say however that there isn't great merit in revisiting this play.
The two characters are Harry and Charlie, a pair of gay hairdressers who live together in Harry's shop. Charlie is an out-sized personality, full of a litany of personal slang and invective thrown randomly and nearly constantly at everything and everyone within range. Harry is more reserved and meek, but his meekness rest on a kind comfort in who and what he is. The two love each other and support each other in their own ways, although Charlie is often so harsh, one wonders exactly what there is about him that keeps Harry with him. Is it perhaps the desperation of that time's less permissive acceptance of homosexuality? I actually like that whatever is lovable about Charlie needs to be found and engendered by the actor graced with the role.
The play takes place over a long drunken evening, as was a fashion of a number of plays of the mid to late 1960's. Charlie receives a summons to report to court for a morals charge. This is the germ of the conflict. Through two short acts of bitchy, witty caterwauling new personal revelations are uncovered and bonds of love tested, bent, and stretched to the breaking point but ultimately recoil and remain in tact. The play is funny. Both roles require very different qualities and I think it would be fun to find a couple of solid character actors with decent range to do this show switching roles up every couple of performances.
I really like this play.