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This new musical by The Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke and TV writer & producer Matt Jones takes a 360 degree view of gay marriage from the perspective of the families of both parties, as well as the couple and their friends.

Alex and Obi’s relationship has been a whirlwind ten months. Alex is an American working in London, though his employer intends to relocate him to the Middle East. Obi is British, of Nigerian decent, a successful advertising Account Manager. Their coming out stories couldn’t be more different. Alex’s mother Diane embraced his sexuality, joining him at Pride marches, his father Brian more reluctant but ultimately accepting. Obi was thrown out by his dad Kenneth when he was sixteen, his mother Grace forced to tow the line, his sister Chichi supporting him. He put himself through the rest of his schooling and both his degree and his masters.

They live together but decide to marry so that Alex can avoid his relocation and have leave to remain. They don’t plan to invite their families, but Alex breaks first, so Obi attempts a reconciliation and invite his. Alex’s parents arrive and his mom forces the issue by arranging a dinner where both families can meet. From here on it becomes an emotional roller coaster and skeletons come out of cupboards with gay abandon.

Robby Graham’s production has great pace and energy, propelled by superb dancing and movement. I really liked Okereke’s music, played by an onstage guitarist with a backing track. Some have called it a play with music, but in my book it’s a musical, as the songs move the narrative forward. The pivotal scene where the families meet over dinner is superbly staged. When current scenes are interwoven with flashbacks to Obi’s youth, the latter are cleverly staged in slo-mo. The final scene of simultaneous conversations between four couples is brilliant.

Tyrone Huntley & Billy Cullum are both terrific as Obi & Alex. Johanne Murdoch conveys the liberal, effervescent but somewhat controlling Diane superbly. Rakie Ayola is a very dignified Grace, Aretha Ayeh a feisty independent Chi Chi and Cornell S John a defiant Kenneth, all excellent, as indeed are the rest of the ensemble.

A very assured musical theatre debut, a highly original show that’s expertly staged and very well performed that’s very much to be recommended.

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