Boys in the Buff – Stockwell Playhouse

Boys in the Buff continues at the Stockwell Playhouse, London until 29 July.

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

In our selfie culture, the notion of ‘self-image’ has never been so oppressive and absurd. Boys in the Buff illuminates the issue with entertaining songs and dance about weight-loss, the hell of gym culture, playground taunts, lack of self-esteem, narcissism, exhibitionism, penis size complexes, and nudity.

Four up-for-it boys are put through the wringer by hostess Diana Diamonte (Natalie Harman) in a fun-packed cabaret show full of singing, dancing and locker room talk. They also expose themselves in a more emotional way, revealing deep insecurities.

Max (Adam O’Shea), the boastful gym addict reveals that he once weighed 280 pounds. Richard (Shaun Riddick), longtime closet case, tells us  how he finally came to terms with his sexuality.

Dan (William Frazer), an ex-porn star, finds a new and better way to strut his stuff. And Phil (Julian Quijano), the guy next door, desperately insecure about his looks, finds the confidence to finally throw caution to the wind.

A cross between The Full Monty and Naked Boys Singing, with a nod to Puppetry of the Penis, Boys in the Buff is a riotous evening of fun, flesh and witty up-tempo tunes.

Chris Burgess, who wrote both the book and lyrics, previously gave us The Jewish Legends, That’s Jewish Entertainment and The MGM Story at Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

And director and choreographer Sam Rayner, who recently served as assistant director for tick, tick… BOOM! at the Park Theatre, has had the good idea to hire Robbie O’Reilly as associate choreographer. The latter choreographed many shows, such as Damn Yankees and A Class Act, at the much-missed Landor Theatre. Here, she notably gives the opening number a definite Bob Fosse touch.

Most of the numbers that follow are also delights to the ear and eye. Amusing highlights are ‘My Foreskin in Me’, cheekily delivered by Riddick, and ‘Big-Hearted Mama’ – the 11 o’clock solo turn from the engaging Harman.

Gratuitous nudity is definitely not the point here, as the whole cast of four men and one woman shine much more for their song, dance and acting talents than for their hot bodies!

Boys in the Buff is top quality, naughty but nice, kinky yet perfectly innocent, sheer fun adult entertainment. Not to be missed.

Patrick Honoré


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