MiniReview: "Certain Young Men" by Peter Gill

Me, with the book of Peter Gill plays. I love the picture on the cover, which is a painting by Picasso with a couple of affectionate guys reading a letter.

What is it?

A play by the Welsh playwright Peter Gill, first presented in London in 1999.


So who are these “certain young men”?

There are eight of them, all queer. Over seventeen scenes, they interact—almost always in pairs—discussing the state of their relationships, their sense of themselves as gay men, et cetera.


Sound wordy and heavy.

It isn’t really. One of the unusual things about this “gay play” is that it doesn’t concern itself much with intellectual musings about the gay movement as such. It’s really an intimate look at a group of individual men who are all engaged in same-sex relationships and struggling with those relationships the same way heterosexuals do, except that of course male homosexual relationships have their own peculiarities. Peter Gill does an extraordinary job of capturing the way men speak to each other intimately. In the end, though, there’s no big “point” to this. It’s a theatrical representation of certain gay young men—certain men—living their lives as best they can.


So, that’s all pretty neutral commentary. Is it any good?

I would love to see this onstage! It’s not the most enjoyable thing to read, however, because there are no stage directions and the dialogue is presented in such a way that it’s sometimes hard to follow—it really needs to be interpreted by actors.

          It’s nice theatrical writing, though, sometimes very touching.



I changed my mind about this. I wasn’t going to give a star, because even though it’s an intelligent and well-written play, it depends as much on performance as script. But it’s rather remarkable among queer plays, in focusing on individual psychologies rather than on that inchoate thing, the “LGBT community,” or the gay movement or gay rights. In the one scene that does constitute something of a discussion of larger LGBT issues, one guy says he’s never been to a Pride parade and the other says he went once, just to see what it was. These are queer folk seen as individuals rather than as members of a community, and that’s refreshing, and it deserves a star. Those of us who went to one Pride and found that was sufficient—we deserve a voice too! And Peter Gill's is an eloquent one.

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