THEATRE / On theatre

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When Patrick Wilde first wrote What's Wrong With Angry (below), the age of consent for homosexual men was 21. 'I wrote the play because I had a lot to say on the subject from personal experience and I needed to get it off my chest,' he says. 'Even if you accept that we need laws to protect people, you have to ask whether they achieve what they set out to. In this case they push the question underground. They make it worse. Where do you go for support if you're young and gay? Not your parents. And not your teachers, either, since Clause 28'.

An actor and director of 12 years standing, Wilde didn't imagine a future as a playwright, but staged the play at a tiny venue, where it was lauded by the gay press and sold out. A run at the Oval House sold out from the first night, and it transferred again to BAC's small studio. The final performance was on the night before the Commons vote on the age of consent. The play attracted a cult audience and BAC booked it for a run in the main theatre.

The success of What's Wrong With Angry throws up a common conundrum on the independent theatre circuit. Even highly successful shows have to close at the end of a limited run, despite having more life left in them. It's a gap in the market that BAC's ever-inventive artistic director Paul Blackman is seeking to fill by capitalising on small-scale successes. From around Hallowe'en, there will be a new show opening for an unlimited run in the downstairs bar. 'It's a microcosm of the West End, I suppose,' says Blackman. 'Some of our shows could have run indefinitely.' The first venture will be an adaptation of Dickens' Sketches by Boz, which will run for as long as is economically viable. Blackman is optimistic, but cautiously so. 'Even if it's not this one, eventually it'll happen,' he says.

What's Wrong With Angry? at BAC (071-223 2223)

(Photograph omitted)

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