GuyMart ★★★★

George Lacey and Richard Seaman’s new comedy-musical GuyMart imagines gay hookup apps as a supermarket

The Recs returned King’s Head Theatre this week for their MT Pride Lab season, and the opener to this brilliant new musical by George Lacey and Richard Seaman set the tone of the show with a chorus of “Men who love men, love GuyMart”. As we sit here now, still humming that very of catchiest tunes, it strikes us how important venues like The King’s Head are, as they give a platform to showcase new LGBTQ+ work.  

GuyMart transports us to the not-too-distant future, a time where Gay dating apps are a thing of the past and instead, those looking for some… ‘company’… simply pop to ‘GuyMart’ to purchase their next sexual partner. The story sees young, innocent, Matt (Finn Whelan) deciding to offer himself as new stock for the mart and handing himself over to GuyMart Store Manager, Alfie (Jack Jacobs), hoping to find his perfect partner. The show blends comical songs with fast-paced storytelling, poking fun at hook-up apps and the kind of interactions they offer. However, as Matt becomes more involved in GuyMart, the show starts to reveal the destructive nature of hook-up culture, especially for young, vulnerable gay men.

The strength of the show is undoubtedly the music and lyrics, with each song having strong appeal. From the up-tempo catchy show tune numbers to the emotional heartfelt ballads, all are well penned and structured to give the show a smorgasbord of musical entertainment. The show’s storyline and book gives real, honest light and shade and takes you on a theatrical journey. The show is billed as …funny, inappropriate and uncomfortable, and slowly pulls you into a strange and disturbing reality… and we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

So often, small-scale musical productions see their lead performer(s) also listed as each member of the creative team, and with no disrespect to those budding multi-hyphenate artistes who so valiantly strive to have their own work up on stage, the creative team behind GuyMart have resisted the temptation to don a touch of eye liner and demonstrate their vocal prowess, and left it to a brilliantly-cast quartet of young performers.

Nick Sedgewick as Freddie and Viktor Andonov as Joe are strong supporting actors, taking advantage of Andonov’s versatility in playing several different roles and Sedgewick’s well-placed tenor vocals and confident dance ability.

Finn Whelan is the perfect casting for wide-eyed, naïve Matt, and has perfectly pitched vocals throughout. His emotional scenes are well acted, perfectly playing the highs and lows of his character’s journey .

Jack Jacobs, in the role of Alfie, has a towering level of stage presence and performance confidence which can come across irritating and a barrier to an audience connecting with their character, but in Jacobs’ case, he uses it skilfully for humour and fast-paced delivery. Even when the show suffered technical difficulties and a loss of sound on the night we were in the audience, the whole cast rose to the occasion and continued to perform and sing three more verses of the song without any accompaniment, an occurrence referenced in the most subtle-but-hilarious way by Jacobs in the next scene. The ability to appropriately interject a scripted piece with improvisation in such a circumstance is one of the joys of live theatre, and Jacobs judged this effortlessly.

The show has some very clever production techniques which lifts it beyond the four walls of the King’s Head Theatre. The staging of a romantic scene particularly impresses with lighting effects perfectly in sync with the sound of fireworks.

All in all, the show is everything you could hope for from a new piece of writing and we hope, dear reader, Tough Nut Theatre group will bring their show back again soon, so you can ‘checkout’ GuyMart for yourself!

We were wild in the aisles for GuyMart – ★★★★ (4 stars)