5 Guys Chillin’ returns to the Kings Head Theatre in London, following successful runs in New York and at the Edinburgh Fringe. We catch up with writer Peter Darney to find out more about the provocative show.
What inspired you to write 5 Guys Chillin’?
The main inspiration to write 5 Guys Chillin’ came from my friend, who is a character in the play referred to as “J”. I knew nothing about the chill-out world until he told me about it. Then once I knew, I was really surprised to see that it was everywhere! It seemed like you could find a chill-out on Grindr within 500 metres in London wherever you are 24/7. The hilarious, outrageous and sometimes dangerous stories J would tell me about his experiences, and the fact that no-one seemed to be talking about it, made me think that I would write this play.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, what’s it about?
5 Guys Chillin’ is about the highs and lows of a modern chillout chemsex party. It looks at intimacy, sex, addiction, consent, sexual racism, HIV, Disclosure, consent and a whole lot more. It’s set at an actual sex party, with an immersive edge. So as the name suggests, 5 guys meet for a chillout, and share stories of other chill-outs and anecdotes from their lives at a chem-sex party.
It’s written from real recorded conversations, did the content of those conversations surprise you?
Frequently. And lots of things surprised me too! When I went to meet the couple who feature in the play, it was just before Christmas. One of them was wrapping gifts whilst we were talking, and doing the most exquisite job you have seen. When I looked at what he was wrapping, I saw that they were giving their friends a dildo and a gram of MDMA each for Christmas!
I was quite surprised by the way that, with some people, slamming (Injecting drugs) has become more socially acceptable.
I was very surprised by some of the sexual acts that people engaged in, and I was surprised to find that amongst some people, contracting HIV seemed to be almost more of a relief for them.
Were there any conversations that you didn’t include that you now wish you had?
Yes!! There was a whole interview with a doctor that I really wanted to include, that covered doing his first drug deal, “G” fits and throwing his first Chill-Out. Luckily, the play has now been published by Oberon Books, and I got to include his whole transcript as a bonus at the end of the book.
It’s now had several successful runs, including London, New York and the Edinburgh Fringe. Why do you think it’s been so popular?
I think it’s because it’s so prevalent, especially in London, and no-one was talking about it. I think people have come because they wanted to know what goes on, or guys that go to them want to check in and see how their experiences match. I think it came out just as this world is at its height, and it does a good job of accurately showing what is for some people, a part of their lives.
There’s some terminology in the play that might not be familiar to everyone will they be able to understand what’s happening?
Yes. In the play text there is a very helpful glossary by David Stuart from 56 Dean St. But most of the terms are explained in the play at some point. And even if you don’t know, – you’re bound to be sat next to someone that does!
Do you think you wrote it for a particular type of audience?
I think anyone can enjoy the play. In our recent off-Broadway run, we had an 86-year-old man in the audience who wrote to me to tell me how much he had enjoyed the performance. My mother has been! However, I did set out to try and engage the people that are either active within, or thinking of becoming active within, this world. Not to tell them to “not” to do it, but to try and make them think and reflect on what is best for them, and make the decisions from an informed place. Five Guys Chillin’ is not preachy play, and I’m certainly not here to give judgement on anyone else’s moral code. But people should make decisions from a place of power, which comes from knowledge, which comes from thought, which comes from reflecting on what the best choices to give yourself happy life maybe for you.
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking a ticket?
Don’t just think about it- Do it!