Theatre is meant to do many things. It's meant to entertain, distract, and commisterate with us. It's also meant to make us think and start conversations about subjects not openly talked about. Well, 5 Guys Chillin', by Peter Darney, is a new, original, refreshing play that is a conversation starter.
Currently playing at the SoHo Playhouse as part of the The Fringe Encore Series (both NYC & Edinburgh), 5 Guys Chillin' gives an inside look into the world of chemsex (a term invented by gay men on sexual networking platforms that refer to the use of certain drugs in sexualised contexts) and chillouts (a gathering in a private hosue where drugs such as mephedrone, G, and crystal meth may be taken. Chillouts often turn into sex parties).
5 Guys Chillin' was created out of interviews conducted with guys found on various dating apps. While those interviews were edited, everything in this show is based upon the words of real people's experiences.
My eyes were certianly opened watching this show. I was shown a segment of the gay community I had only heard about, but never experienced. Well, tonight, through this show, I feel like I experienced it and I'm glad it was through this show and not real life. It was frightening watching and listening to what was happening not more than 10 feet in front of me. Random guys, though some friends & some couples, gather at someone's house getting high, talking, while sometimes having various states of sexual relations with each other at the party. The stories were mostly tales of their sexual conquests while taking drugs or of other chemsex parties. With their judgement impaired, a lot of unsafe decisions can be made. Some of the guys have contracted numerous STDs, while others were infected with HIV, and some had other life-threatening events happen to them.
As the show went on, the stories intensified, becoming more jaw-dropping than the one before. I was engulfed. I was saddened. I was dumbfounded that these kinds of parties go on. But there is a large segment of the gay community that do it and I guess love it. I've never been into drugs nor do I have a desire to try them, but I was fascinated by this whole concept in the fact that it exists.
The scariest part was learning about the guys who overdose at these parties. Most times, the one overdosing is having convulsions, but usually helped down to the ground by others at the chillout. Depending on who is in attendance depends on what happens next. Some of the guys who overdosed are just left to sleep it off, others are gang-raped, while others don't make it to the light of day. In 5 Guys Chillin' one of the characters OD and while he was just left in the middle of the party to sleep it off, two other characters end up having sex with each other, right on top of him as if he were the floor or the couch or the bed.
With everything that went on at these parties, it really made me think what happened to these guys that made them turn to drugs in the first place? Then I wondered, what would make them put their lives at risk like this? What makes them think this is the way to have fun? They all have a story that lead them to these parties and while the play doesn't get into that, it is something I'd love to see explored in a second installment or if this play were made into a film.
What happens at these parties is definitely not my scene, but I really commend Peter for bringing this subject to the forefront. He has written a terrific, eye-opening play that is not easy to watch, but really should be seen. Not every theatrical experience is happy go lucky. Theatre also exists to show us real life scenarios that are hard to swallow.
Peter is not the only one who should be applauded for this show. The entire cast was terrific! Rick Yale, Cesare Scarpone, Elliot Hadley, Richard De Lisle, and Adi Chugh are really putting themselves out there, not only in their briefs, but in the vulnerability of their characters as well as being part of a play with a very tough subject matter. 5 Guys Chillin' easily made me feel like I was at a chillout and not a theatrical show.
5 Guys Chillin' runs through October 9 only at The SoHo Playouse in NYC (15 Vandam Street). Click here for tickets!
If you missed my interview with Peter Darney, the playwright/director of 5 Guys Chillin', click here to read it!
Click here for more on 5 Guys Chillin'!
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