Recent performs set in bathrooms have dwelt on the modern-day weaponisation of this communal area. The impartial WCs in Public: The Musical confirmed characters of various gender identities conversing throughout the cubicles, whereas Overflow confined one trans girl to a contested area. Boys on the Verge of Tears, which unfolds totally throughout the stained, sticky white partitions of a brightly lit bathroom (4 stalls, 4 sinks, 4 urinals), feels extra old-school.

In a male spin on Rachel Hirons’s When Girls Wee, 5 actors painting round 30 males and boys in a string of vignettes; the result’s a whistle-stop tour of bewildered masculinity. Nobody right here fairly embodies a personality with the identical economic system of gesture because the wiry, haunted Matthew Beard: with a cocksure strut or a horrified flinch, he can evoke entire worlds of confidence and neurosis. Calvin Demba exhibits spectacular vary too, switching from a shy middle-schooler in a tiger onesie (shades of Blue Remembered Hills) to a swaggering teenager and at last a clubber whose blood-stained shirt is a buzzkill.

It’s on this final part, the longest by far, that the scope and slipperiness of Sam Grabiner’s play, which gained the 2022 Verity Bargate award, are revealed. Peter Mumford’s lighting and Ian Dickinson’s sound design additionally come into their very own right here, evoking an All of Us Strangers-style unintentional encounter with ketamine throughout which actuality jostles with hallucination. Are these first-responders or the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse?

{Photograph}: Marc Brenner

The seasoned director James Macdonald marshals the transitions between scenes for optimum resonance. The leap between the primary and second vignettes is very well-handled, making a pleasurable buzz as we realise precisely what Grabiner is as much as. The writing doesn’t at all times equal the ambition: the ultimate conflab between a person and his cringing grownup stepson feels under-dramatised and on-the-nose. (The stepfather is altering his colostomy bag – dealing instantly together with his shit in a method that the opposite characters have did not do.) Even after that wobble, a gently magical payoff brings the motion full-circle, and hints that not all the lads listed here are in the bathroom.

At Soho theatre, London, till 18 Could


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