The King’s Head are transferring their successful production of Joe DiPietro’s play Fucking Men from London to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
This is a play with a fascinating history – dating back to the late 1890s when Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler wrote a play now known as La Ronde, featuring a dramatic structure of ten interlocking scenes between pairs of lovers. Each of its ten characters appear in two consecutive scenes, with one from the final scene having appeared in the first.
DiPietro isn’t the first to use this structure to create something fresh. You may have seen David Hare’s The Blue Room, there have been several others – as well as a couple of gay versions.
DiPietro’s take on La Ronde – Fucking Men – had its premiere in 2008 and continues to be popular, its tight, sharply written script doesn’t feel dated at all.
The characters in the play are:
- The Actor
- The Escort
- The Graduate Student
- The Porn Star
- The Soldier
- The Student
- The Playwright
- The Married Guy
- The Other Married Guy
- The Journalist
Ahead of its run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we spoke with director Mark Barford:
How relevant are the themes explored by Fucking Men to the gay men of today?
Fucking Men is a modern play about what it’s like to be a gay man living today. It deals with many issues that gay men experience surrounding relationships, sex and commitment. We’ve been very active in making the play sound and feel current and have updated it to reflect this so that a modern audience can relate to it. Ultimately though the play is about human connection – something that we can all relate to, understand and I think both need and want in our lives.
What have been some of the challenges in creating this production?
The three actors (Rick, Haydn and Harper) play ten different characters between them. Because of this we spent a considerable amount of our time on characterisation, being sure to define each character so that they are all clearly different from one another. For the audience it is an opportunity to see how actors can successfully play multiple characters in a short space of time. It does make for exciting viewing.
Is this a play that only appeals to an audience of gay men?
Some of our most positive reactions to the play have been from straight women. I’ve been told on a number of occasions by members of our audience that it didn’t matter that they were straight as they could still very much relate to the experiences that the characters go through.
The play isn’t as explicit as the title suggests, how would you describe the play to theatre-going audiences?
It’s both funnier and much more poignant then the title suggests. The play uses a daisy-chain plot structure that portrays two character’s sexual encounter and then one of these characters follows on into the next scene where a new character is then introduced.
It is a very accessible play – particularly for those who are new to the theatre or don’t see a lot of theatre.
Do you think the play will get a different reaction in Edinburgh than the reaction to the production in London?
Although I’ve chosen to set it in London, the story and its characters are still very much transferable and I think relatable to an Edinburgh audience. It’s a very universal play.
What do you hope that audiences feel when watching Fucking Men?
Emotionally connected to what they see and hear, perhaps a bit aroused, but ultimately feel that they can identify with the characters of the play and their experiences.