The premise of ‘5 Guys Chillin’ is a simple one; five men get together for a chill-out party, but as the evening progresses we learn that the underlying emotions and consequences that emerge from such a gathering are far from simple.
The play begins with two men, the hosts, welcoming another couple to their home, followed by a third guest. They are strangers and have met online, as so often is the case at a chill-out party, and all that’s planned for the evening is a cocktail of drugs and sex.
But what we get in ‘5 Guys Chillin’ is so much more. The characters are revealed, with their deepest fears and regrets laid bare. We learn how STI’s are collected like badges and how lonely a promiscuous lifestyle can be. The play isn’t necessarily graphic, but it is exposing, and at times could be deemed uncomfortable to watch.
Writer, Peter Darney, spent countless hours interviewing men who regularly attend chill-out parties. The words we hear on stage are their verbatim accounts of their own lives. What Peter Darney has managed to do, and very well it has to be said, is weave those into a coherent piece of theatre that flows like a play and not a collection of interviews.
All five cast members give it their all, treating the real-life words of others with the respect they deserve. Stuart Birmingham and Elliot Hadley stand out, in particular, for their incredibly moving performances.
For many the subject will be uncomfortable, confusing even, but that’s what makes wonderful theatre. ‘5 Guys Chillin’ will open a lot of eyes to a different kind of lifestyle, or even a familiar lifestyle. Either way, ‘5 Guys Chillin’ is an outstanding example of a play that enlightens as well as entertains.