The Way Old Friends Do ★★★★
Park Theatre , London
We’re having another ABBA moment. London’s stunning ABBA Voyage show is packed out every night, U2 has just covered SOS, and the legendary Mark Gatiss (Nighty Night, A League of Gentlemen, Sherlock, Doctor Who, Dracula) is directing an ABBA-inspired play, The Way Old Friends Do, written by his husband Ian Hallard.
On the back of a successful launch at Birmingham’s renowned Rep Theatre, the play is now on at London’s excellent, intimate Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.
In the late 1980s, two school friends, Peter (writer Ian Hallard – the lead is partly based on him) and Edward (James Bradshaw), from Birmingham, tentatively come out to one another: one as gay, the other as an ABBA fan. Nearly thirty years later, now both gay, a chance meeting via Grindr sets them on an exciting new path, and they decide to form the world’s first ABBA tribute band – in drag. But can their friendship survive the tribulations of life on the road; one full of platform boots, fake beards, and a distractingly attractive stranger?
Hallard’s fun play is ultimately about long-term friendships, and the journey we go on with our long-term friends. Hallard reminds me a lot of Leonard Rossiter as Rigsby in Rising Damp, and the strong supporting cast and script echo the familial warmth of the classic TV sitcom. Fans of Abba will not be disappointed with the many less well-known Abba facts peppered throughout the script. I’m a middle-aged queer Brummie Abba fan too so it was easy to connect to the play but you don’t need to be any of these to have a good time here. The unpredictable play nods to the classic Abba combinations of joyful songs that actually often contained quite dark themes and lyrics. An added bonus is the voice of Miriam Margolyes who plays Hallam’s off-stage grandmother. A very British romp.
The Way Old Friends Do is on at the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London until 15th April
Queerguru’s Contributing Editor Ris Fatah is a successful fashion/luxury business consultant (when he can be bothered) who divides and wastes his time between London and Ibiza. He is a lover of all things queer, feminist, and human rights in general. @ris.fatah
Labels: 2023, ABBA, London, Mark Gatiss, Park Theatre, review, Ris Fatah, The Way Old Friends Do