During the pandemic, there have been many shows that have had their plans scuppered repeatedly. GHBoy is one of these. Due to receive its world premiere at Charing Cross Premiere in November, it was delayed a month due to the second lockdown, only to close prematurely when the Tier system changed. Like others, the creative team showed resilience and were quick to get the show filmed in the hope of sharing the play with a wider audience. This is the result.
Written by Paul Harvard, GHBoy takes you to the East London party scene for a tale of sex, drugs and an unnamed killer. The show is centred around Robert Finch, a complex man who juggles conflicting parts of his personality in a way that is bound to end in tears. Played beautifully by Jimmy Essex, we are taken on a journey through the complications and temptations of the world Robert finds himself in.
Robert's partner Sergi is beautifully played by Marc Bosch - a relatively innocent character , it feels like he doesn't belong in the seedy world he has found himself in due to his cheating fiance. At times it feels like you are viewing the production through his eyes and have the tendency to sympathise with him as opposed to our main protagonist.
There is no shying away to the explicit references to casual sex and hard drugs. The dangers of this are touched upon, with repeated conversation about young men being killed as well as Robert hiding his own diagnosis. In a show that is deliberatekly disjointed, we don't stay on these subjects for long.
At the heart of the show, we are witnessing Robert come to terms with his truth - fighting demons from his past he would prefer to forget, nattling his own sense of self-worth while trying to become a better person and simultaneously making the same mistakes over and over again. The rapid scene changes paired with multiple conversations and situations taking place on stage at the same time make this a very intense and often claustrophobic tale. Perhaps hard to follow at times, if you make sense of what is going on, you will understand the purpose.
An exploration of gay culture, infidelity and the everyday temptations that face us, GHBoy is a captivating watch. Throughout the play, it is kept unclear whether you should be rooting for Robert or not - whether he is the hero of the tale or the villain. This is an authentic metaphor for humanity. Too often in shows, characters are rooted in stereotypical good or bad tropes - this breaks it down to say it is never that clean cut. People are complicated and flawed. GHBoy does not shy away from this, making a realistic and often gritty exploration into humanity.
Expertly directed, fantastically produced and with a great cast, delivering intense and believable performances on stage, GHBoy is an interesting show. While its aim might not be clear from the offset and the main story may feel a little lost at times, it is a highly captivating 90 minutes of theatre.
GHBoy is available to stream on demand from https://vimeo.com/ondemand/ghboy