Out Of The Mouths Of Grindr Users

5 Guys Chillin' at King's Head Theatre ★★★☆☆

Lettie Mckie
By Lettie Mckie Last edited 22 months ago
Out Of The Mouths Of Grindr Users 5 Guys Chillin' at King's Head Theatre 3
Michael Matrovski, Damien Hughes and Elliot Hadley in 5 Guys Chillin'. Photo by Kasia Burke.

The gay chill-out scene has exploded in recent years due to the advent of social media apps like Grindr. Never has it been easier for people looking for sex to hook up at the click of a button. Late night show 5 Guys Chillin' at the King’s Head, written and directed by Peter Darney, is a frank account of the not-so-hidden world of 24 hour sex parties, taken verbatim from over 50 hours of interviews with men who go to them.

Unashamedly honest and fun, the piece is also balanced, reflecting many different experiences and views. The audience are treated as voyeurs, looking into the living room of a guy who has hooked up with a group of other men looking for sex and drugs through Grindr. It’s extremely graphic, but given the subject matter it would be hard not to be. The guys are all half-naked throughout but draw the line at full-frontal nudity.

The characters are distinct but, disappointingly, we never get to learn their names or find out much about their personalities. Instead they are used as the mouthpiece for verbatim anecdotes presented like a conversation that covers a huge range of sexual experiences and the issues surrounding them. We move from discussions about drug-taking, to polyamorous relationships, racism, STDs and the intimate details of a whole range of sex acts. We learn about dark rooms, spit-roasting, slaves and fisting as well as hearing stories of when things go wrong.

Eye-opening and often shocking, the conversation is not for the faint-hearted or prudish. Some stories are so extreme — at one point a character says "I really like fucking guys with gonorrhoea" — but they never lose their sense of humour. Sadly from a dramatic point of view the show is repetitive and the continued dry humping gets boring after a while. The conversation feels forced and the actors can’t quite shake off the fact that they are repeating somebody else’s words. Despite this, the stories are presented intelligently, revealing the huge diversity of men who find excitement, community and immense sexual satisfaction from this lifestyle.

5 Guys Chillin is at the King's Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street N1 1QN, until 28th November (Thurs - Sat). Tickets £18/£15. Londonist saw this production on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 22 October 2015