Theatre: BOOM BANG-A-BANG Bush, London

After the tawdry debacle of Eurovision (the gay musical that scored nul points in all categories) the idea of using the world's naffest of songfests as the context for another homosexual comedy might have seemed about as propitious a ploy as, ooh, building a pleasure cruiser and christening it the Titanic, or deciding to set a new soap opera in Spain.

Jonathan Harvey's Boom Bang-a-Bang at The Bush serenely soars over such superstitions. I have to admit that the news that his latest play was going to be set at a Kentish Town Eurovision Night party chez the kind of gay buffs who make a point of knowing their "Ding Dang Dong" from their "Ding-a-Dong" filled me with foreboding for a different reason. Harvey, still in his twenties, has just about the most natural ear for authentic- sounding comic dialogue of anyone of his generation. But with his two previous hits, you sometimes felt that the buckets of Scouse charm and the slightly coercive party atmosphere were failing to conceal an uncertainty about the issues raised (particularly in the attempted rape scene in Babies). Boom Bang-a-Bang sounded as though it would scarcely discourage these evasive tendencies.

Instead, it marks a marvellous leap forward in Harvey's art. It's a delight, but a delight with real bite. At one point, a charcter emerges from a long session on the loo bearing a copy of My Night With Reg. An in-jokey touch, but from the evidence of Boom Bang-a-Bang, you might suspect that Harvey also keeps a well-thumbed edition of Abigail's Party in his bathroom. Indeed, resentful, treacherous Steph (Gary Love), all officious false concern and snide confidentiality, seems to have dedicated his life to a round-the-clock impersonation of Alison Steadman's immortal Beverley from that play.

The Kentish Town party is significant for its absentees. Since their last Eurovision thrash, the lover of the host, Lee (Chris Hargreaves) has died. Of a brain tumour, not AIDS as it happens, although it seems that many of the couple's gay friends, who have decamped to an alternative party this year, think that diagnosis a hypocritical cover-up. Hence, to Steph's waspish annoyance, the undue number of straight guests at Lee's do.

No, make that 'straight' guests, for as the evening wears on, television sets blow up and conventional sexual categories are blown apart.

Director Kathy Burke and a brilliant cast do handsome justice to a play that combines farcical hilarity (such as the moment when Francis Lee's wonderful Roy drops some ecstasy and becomes disastrously indiscreet as he loses all his previous knotted anxieties), gimlet-eyed observation of gay sub-culture (watch out in the Oxford Street Top Shop), and a plot that intelligently exposes the limitations of gender stereotypes and sexual pigeon-holing - how it can make seemingly perfect sense, say, for Jane Hazlegrove's aggrieved Wendy to tell her female lover: "You're a man. You do the same sort of things men do. Fuck women up." Or for straight Nick (Karl Draper) to feel wistfully that he would be better off in a relationship with Lee than with his partner. The play rattles open compartments without making the simplistic suggestion that everybody is "really" gay. Still ridiculously young and talented, Jonathan Harvey is now becoming seriously good.

n To 19 Aug (Booking: 0181-743 2223)

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before