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Review: For Reasons That Remain Unclear, at King’s Head Theatre

Venue’s Queer Season opens with story of a liaison between a Hollywood screen­writer and a Catholic priest, in play that pulls off a humdinger of a twist

02 August, 2018 — By Simon Fearn

Cory Peterson and Simon Haines in For Reasons That Remain Unclear. Photo: Alex Brenner

MART Crowley was a pioneer of LGBTQ+ theatre with his 1968 play The Boys in the Band, so it’s something of a coup for the King’s Head to open their Queer Season with the European premiere of his latest work.

And For Reasons that Remain Unclear doesn’t disappoint. Crowley creates complex, often contradictory characters and eminently quotable dialogue – and pulls off a humdinger of a twist.
Patrick (Simon Haines), a Hollywood screen­writer, invites Conrad (Cory Peterson), an older Catholic priest, back to his room for a drink. In a lavish Rome hotel room, Patrick attempts to cajole Conrad into bed with a barrage of outrageous innuendo.

“My thoughts never left you for a moment,” he simmers, “even if I got lost in them.” Somehow, Conrad remains oblivious. As the two-hander progresses, we realise both men are hiding something and the evening is building to a devastating revelation.

Peterson is fantastic as Conrad, though Haines sometimes struggles to reconcile his character’s impish charm, reptilian coldness and buried trauma. The in-the-round hotel room set mixes idyllic calm with a sense of voyeurism, while director Jessica Lazar takes the action seamlessly from buoyant rom-com to something altogether more sinister.

This production keeps your lips taut in a smile for its first half, only to shake you to the core at its conclusion. It would be a sin to miss it.

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