Straight and Narrow is a comedy play written by Jimmy Chinn and first performed in 1992. It
has since been revived with direction from Mark Curry and found a new home at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall, which is notable for showcasing LGBT+ productions. Straight and Narrow follows Bob and Jeff, a gay couple, whose closeted relationship is threatened by an incident that happened on their holiday to Malta. Bob must deal with his family’s drama and the strained relationship with Jeff, as ‘innocent lies’ catch up with him.

Credit: PBG Studios

The action takes place entirely in Bob and Jeff’s living room, in their Lancashire home. Upon
entering the theatre space, I enjoyed the 80s soundtrack and the décor – stripy
wallpaper, mismatched furniture designs, the old-style telephone, and bulky speakers. Set
and costume designer, David Shields, did well in setting the scene and taking us back to 80s.

Bob, played by Lewis Allcock, breaks the fourth wall, and narrates directly to the audience
throughout the play. He explains to us that everyone tells innocent lies to keep the peace
and uses the example of his mother not knowing he is gay. Through Bob’s narration, we are
introduced to each character and provided detailed information about their personal lives.

He begins by telling the audience about his partner, Jeff (played by Todd Van Joel) and we
instantly note the differences between them. Jeff appears more masculine; he jogs and
builds kitchens, where Bob, on the other hand, is more domestic – he cooks, designs, and
decorates kitchens.

We then meet the rest of Bob’s family: sisters Lois and Nona (Kerry Enright and Harriett
Hare) and their razor-tongue mother, Vera, played by Carol Royle. I did enjoy seeing the
relationship between Bob and his two sisters, however their scenes felt too long and drawn
out and, ultimately, did not add much to the conclusion of the play.

Due to scheduling issues, the cast only had a week to rehearse; therefore, Royle required the
script during the performance. Despite this, Royle played Vera brilliantly and delivered all
the witty comments well. There were scenes where I felt the humour was too old fashioned,
and not all the jokes landed. However, this may have been down to my own lack of
knowledge on the references.

I liked the farcical end to Act One as it led up to the revelation on what happened in Malta.
The characters were so hysterical, and I enjoyed the multiple debates taking place, which
ended with the twist about who ‘Terry’ was. As the play goes on, we learn about Jeff’s true
desires and have tender moments between the characters. For example, in Vera and Bob’s
scenes, we are shown a softer side to Vera, and I liked her ‘a mother is like a bird’ analogy,
which ended with a comical pun that got the audience laughing.

Overall, I enjoyed Straight and Narrow. I appreciated that the play shone light on society’s
opinions regarding homosexuality in the 1980s. The set design and chemistry between the
actors were its strengths, but the humour was not to my taste.

Straight and Narrow is showing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall until the 28th of August.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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