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5 Guys Chillin'

From 12 critic and 44 member reviews
Members say: Edgy, Raunchy, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Intense

About the show

A Fringe Encore: Em-Lou Productions presents Peter Darney's play about the gay chemsex scene in the UK. Based on interviews with real scenesters. A hit at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe. More…

This graphic, gripping, funny, and frank verbatim drama explores the gay chemsex chill-out scene, from surgeons to students, couples to kink, guys that love it, and lost guys longing to be loved. Inspired by interviews with men found on Grindr, '5 Guys' is an original look into a drug-fueled, hedonistic, highly secretive world, and the search for intimacy and instant gratification.

Call Me Adam

"'5 Guys Chillin'' is a new, original, refreshing play that is a conversation starter...My eyes were certainly opened watching this show. I was shown a segment of the gay community I had only heard about, but never experienced...As the show went on, the stories intensified, each becoming more jaw-dropping than the one before...I really commend Peter for bringing this subject to the forefront. He has written a terrific, eye-opening play that is not easy to watch, but really should be seen." Full Review


"Dynamically performed, well conceived and theatrically accomplished, it’s an intense though often humorous presentation...Darney has skillfully fashioned an engaging, unflinching character study. There’s no plot but it is still a compelling take on this phenomenon...Arresting tableaus and dance sequences visualize sexual activities and the dialogue portions have momentum...Like its subject matter, '5 Guys’ becomes numbing due to the relentless and repetitive actions enacted." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"This is an easy, free-flowing evening of sex and drug talk, but underneath, this confessional play is something more disturbing and fraught....To varying degrees, these five actors do a great job bringing us in and connecting us to their struggles and pain...The stories being told in writer/director Peter Darney’s '5 Guys' sometimes have an awkwardness in the scenario but a realness in the telling...This play does a great job in showing us both the highs and the lows." Full Review

New York Theater

"Darney’s evident intent is to have you react to '5 Guys' as both an entertainment and as a powerful—and graphic—cautionary tale. The combination can feel awkward at times, and unrealistic. At first blush, it might seem odd that the characters spend much more of their time talking about past practices and experiences rather than, um, making new ones...The knowledge that everything the characters say is verbatim from actual people adds an extra layer of alarm and revulsion." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"A cross between documentary theatre and performance piece...At two points the guys come together in a transcendent erotic dance...These moments—a highlight of the show—provide a glimpse into what this piece could become were it not hampered by a devotion to the literal...This is really two plays in one...These two stories don’t mesh well, and the conflict persists throughout...All five actors give passionate performances, and do much to make the dialogue fit as well as it can." Full Review

Fringe Review (UK)

for a previous production "This is one of the most important plays this reviewer has seen in decades…This play is a revelation in how we have alienated a huge part of our own society. Every person in the play is a human being aching for recognition and validity, drugging himself in a vain effort to feel a thrill that he mistakes for a life force…This is a play every human being should see to understand the desperate need each of us have to feel we belong…Far more than an entertainment; it is a revelation." Full Review

The Scottish Sun

for a previous production "A phenomenal piece of verbatim theatre. It's an original look into a drug-fueled, highly secret world of Grindr and instant gratification. It's dark, raunchy and at times disturbing, but brilliantly written and features some superb performance from a young cast…Although it attracts a predominantly gay audience, it's a fascinating yet honest insight for all of us into the chill-out, chem-sex scene that's becoming a growing problem in many cities across the globe with the LGBT community.” Full Review

The Outmost

for a previous production "Some may find this play challenging; its descriptions of sex acts are extremely graphic…There is some really excellent ensemble acting from a very talented group of actors…There is no moralizing or judgments, which might frustrate fans of theatrical resolutions or tidy endings…This is definitely not the show to go to if you are looking for an evening of light entertainment. A sometimes uneasy experience, but a very important one. " Full Review

SG Fringe

for a previous production “This is not a gentle chilled-out ride; it’s a verbatim screaming surge of sex and drugs and won’t be to everyone’s taste. But I know people like this…This is what’s been happening in our community and is getting more prevalent, spreading further. If we don’t look at it honestly and learn about it, we won’t be ready when it hits. There’s fragility and compassion here too, the human queer soul still trying to reassert itself through a chemical rush.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

for a previous production "There’s a delicate balance to be struck between the veracity of the interviews and the dramatic action of the play. ‘5 Guys’ manages to achieve this balance with integrity…There is a slightly creeping sense of exposition which in a way can’t be helped…Their fictional characters are carefully and skillfully developed…In all, ’5 Guys ’ is a contemporary and crucial production. It’s well-crafted, convincingly performed and with a notable commitment to the genre of verbatim theatre." Full Review

The List

for a previous production "While its verbatim script and loose structure prevents ’5 Guys’ from becoming an entirely coherent piece of theatre–the characters are inconsistent and the episodes don't cohere into a dramatic narrative–it achieves its polemical aim as a warning against casual sex and drugs…By the finale, the production has made its point…It is as shocking as a government-funded advert from the 1980s, with a tombstone casting a shadow over the cheeky, fun-seeking characters." Full Review

Broadway Baby

for a previous production "A verbatim ensemble work that is both didactic and entertaining…After a while, among all the frivolity and sexual mimicry, the play becomes something of a predictable checklist of issues in which every box has to be ticked…It is an insight into an often dark world, where for many sex has overtaken their lives…For all of them, it provokes issues that need to be confronted not just by them but by society as a whole, and this play brutally brings those into the public domain." Full Review

Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if if you do not mind nudity and outrageous drug use and sexual behaviour - boys in the band in todays world - actors never stop playing

Don't see it if if you are shocked by nudity and drug abuse

Great writing, Great staging, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Intense

See it if you like intense plays (based on real life) that depict the darker side of queer life; really good acting, writing and direction.

Don't see it if depictions of sex and drug use offend you.

Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Titilating yet profoundly disturbing

See it if you live in a non-judgment zone. Not for pearl clutchers, because the pearls have probably been up someone's bum. It starts & ends w/o you.

Don't see it if you shock easily. Especially since much of the dialogue is lifted from real life. It can be nightmare fuel for some. It's barebacked theater

Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Raunchy, Relevant

See it if You like adult themes, rampid drug use and sex. The show's well acted and staged

Don't see it if You are a recovering addict and don't wanna feel gross

Absorbing, Edgy

See it if You want a real-life take on 5 guys and the problems they are having deep down in their lives.

Don't see it if Simulated drug use or nudity offends you.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Quirky, Raunchy, Resonant

See it if You aren't scared of actors playing honest characters in their underwear. Lewd and rude, watching the actors find their honesty is beautiful

Don't see it if You don't like lewd, rude plays. Vulgar and extreme and definitely rated M+ for good reasons. One mediocre actor surrounded by great ones.

Intense, Artificial, Preachy

See it if underdressed young men faking sex are enough to get you through a laundry list of reasons not to do recreationaldrugs and be promiscuous

Don't see it if those young men are not enough to get you through...

Raunchy, Resonant, Intense, Unsettling, Ambitious

See it if you want a frank, realistic, bare (literal & figurative) glimpse into the gay chemsex subculture; you appreciate issue-driven docu-theatre.

Don't see it if you expect a titillating, sexy gay comedy. It's an awkward, unabashedly raunchy, but cogent PSA on the effects of sex, drugs & indifference.

Drug-fueled raunchy sex-obsessed

See it if Gay British sex and drug addicts. We are given a glossary. Chillin is a sex party. The guys are attractive. Adi Chugh, the Paki, is swell

Don't see it if They have a cavalier attitude toward HIV. Much talk and little sex. They are all lonely.and basically sad. Touching

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Intense, Raunchy

See it if You're interested in a disturbing, funny play about urban gay men into the drug, sex & multiple partner scene, taken from actual interviews

Don't see it if Graphic displays of frontal nudity, simulated sex and drug use of all kinds and very crude, sassy, and expletive filled language repels you

Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Confronting, Relevant

See it if you appreciate&are open to insight into the gay party culture/scene,relevant in any city of the world in yester-year and even more so today.

Don't see it if gay themes,nudity & the use/abuse of 'recreational' party drug consumption offends in any way.Confronting,realistic,dark yet funny at times.

Dizzying, Edgy, Indulgent, Pathetic sex and drug addicts living out their meaningless existence.

See it if The sight of 5 pretty hot gay guys cavorting, drugging and self-destructing turns you on. I must admit the acting was excellent.

Don't see it if You would be morally offended(I was) by a show that secretly celebrates behaviors it criticizes on the surface. All problem/no solution.

Slow, Disappointing

See it if you are into the heavy drug scene associated with gay sex. If you like a one act play done in real-time. If you like a bit of overacting.

Don't see it if you are offended by profanity, simulated drug use & gay sex, and some nudity. If you are looking for a show to take the kids.

Clever, Great acting, Edgy, Dizzying, Thought-provoking

See it if You don't mind a hard-hitting play with adult language and story lines, as well as heavy (simulated) drug use.

Don't see it if You are looking for a traditional drama and are offended by the subject matter.

Confusing, Edgy, Raunchy, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you're interested in LGBTQ themes, a thoughtful exploration of drug use & issues facing gay men in the UK.

Don't see it if you don't want to see nudity, profanity, sex, explicit drug use, and other disturbing content. Not family friendly at all.

Ambitious, Cliched, Funny, Edgy, Thought-provoking

See it if Engaging premise that sometimes feels a bit too confessional and dramatic for its own good. But overall it registers at fairly real

Don't see it if Don't see if you are uncomfortable with graphic sex and drug talk. Was upsetting to see some moments but that might be the point.

Edgy, Great staging, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you are looking for an edgy night of theatre and want to learn more about the gay "chem-sex" scene.

Don't see it if the idea of being handed condoms in lieu of a playbill is upsetting

Ambitious, Cliched, Edgy, Raunchy

See it if You're interested in the London sex, party, and drug scene. LGBTQ themes. Club music. Half-naked men in their 20s and 30s. Simulated sex.

Don't see it if You're uncomfortable with all the above and cavalier attitudes on HIV and STI's. No playbill, but, you get condoms. Abrupt ending....

Ambitious, Confusing, Intense, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You're gay or interested in gay topics or curious

Don't see it if You like happy endings

Sexually charged, Scattered focus, Assault of discomforting ideas & actions, Sufficient eye candy, Primer of terms, sexual acts & drugs

See it if you want a graphic documentary style parade of lifestyle choices of those in the chem sex nation with sufficient flesh, frotage & titilation

Don't see it if you are uncomfotable with flesh, frotage, titilation and frank discussion & demonstration of sexual practice, & drug usage

Absorbing, Edgy, Intelligent, Intense, Relevant

See it if you are interested in seeing real life issues acted out in intense and provoking ways

Don't see it if you are looking at the ad for the show and assume you are just going to see five men having sex on stage-it was way more complex than that

Original, Thought-provoking, Edgy, Disappointing, Confusing

See it if Like real-life dialogue; current topics of discussion; have an interest in drug/sex culture. Better if more of a storyline throughout.

Don't see it if Offended by simulated drug usage and sex or nudity.

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Interesting, Great acting, Raunchy

See it if You're interested in learning more about the Chem scene. And "Chill" parties. It was definitely eye-opening.

Don't see it if You're easily offended by nudity. Or the gay scene. Or bad language. Or drug use. Or sex simulation. Need I continue...?

Thought-provoking, Raunchy, Intense, Ambitious, Original

See it if you enjoy seeing half naked men, intense stories about drug use, sex and the consequences of "chillin" without protection

Don't see it if are a prude, want something light hearted, looking for laughs, are homophobic, or hate the feeling when theatre leaves you unresolved

Also I went into this show thinking it was going to be a raunchy, light hea... Read more Read less

Cliched, Confusing, Fluffy, Raunchy, Resonant

See it if You are interested in learning more about chilling

Don't see it if Want a straightforward and coherent storyline

Cast & Creatives (9)