Charles Dyer’s 1966 play Staircase
Mutual and self-loathing between two ageing gay lovers
There are a number of very good reasons for resurrecting Charles Dyer’s 1966 play, foremost of which is his control of language. Under Dyer’s pen, the plain tics and disappointments of everyday speech become poetic and lovely. To an extent this is very much a period piece from a time when homosexuality was still illegal: the subject is the mutual and self-loathing between two ageing lovers, Charlie and Harry, who have been forced to live their whole lives together illicitly. Director Andy Arnold turns actor here, playing Charlie as a Pinteresque tragic antihero. As Harry, Benny Young manages a rather beautiful study in the melancholy always hinted at and suppressed in those great English camp turns of the period-he manages to reference both Frankie Howard and Mrs Slocombe without losing dignity.
As a two-hander, the play doesn’t offer much variation, and this production could certainly stand to ramp the tension up a bit more. However, a twist at the end is played brilliantly, refracting everything we thought we knew.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, until Sat 5 Mar