When we hear someone talk about Horse Play, only one thing comes to mind. That is the play about?
A gay couple hire a hot escort and a dungeon for an evening In order to spice up their flagging sex life: and then they end up getting stuck in there for twenty-four hours… That's the premise of Horse-Play: a new play that is running at Riverside Studios, in Hammersmith, West London until 24 September.
I have to ask… just what you getting up to when the idea for the play came to you?
The idea for the show came to me during that first bizarre lockdown of Spring 2020, when the planes stopped flying and you were only supposed to leave your house for twenty minutes at a time. Back then, people like me who work in the Arts, wondered if theatres would ever open again. I suspected that if, and when, shows did return, we'd all want a good laugh, hence the idea of writing a farcical comedy. I wanted to set it all in one location, and the idea of a group of characters trapped in a sex dungeon made me chuckle to myself. One of the initial inspirations that popped into my head was two guys in a bondage scenario: one tied up, with the other suddenly incapacitated for some reason and therefore unable to release his play partner. Obviously in real life this would be an alarming experience - but on stage, I felt it could have some comic potential!
There's such an extensive list of fetishes and types of roleplays that kinksters can get up to. How did the idea of horse play and superheroes come together?
I was interested in exploring the idea of fetish and role-play further, and found myself googling a list of suggestions for sexual role-plays. There were well over fifty of them, from teachers and students to doctors and nurses, via Roman centurions and gladiators. But when my eyes alighted on 'superheroes', I thought that could fit the bill perfectly. Muscle-bound hunks in tight-fitting lycra costumes, being overpowered, tied up, and taunted by their arch nemeses: that sounded like fun.
One of my motivations for writing the play was to explore how older gay men's sexualities are depicted on stage. There's a definite tendency for such characters to be portrayed negatively: particularly if they're into anything remotely kinky.I wanted to create characters whose kinks did not define them, and which certainly didn't automatically make them bad people!
How do you think kinksters (and non-kinksters) will respond to the play?
One character in the play says: "I reckon over the centuries, people have done more harm by suppressing their urges, than if they just went ahead and did what made them happy". I realise I'm preaching to the converted here, but who cares what turns people on as long as it's all consensual, after all? But it was also important to me that, while Horse-Play might take a comical look at the world of role-play, it wouldn't be mocking or scornful. Although I think even the most committed role-player would have to admit there is a very fine line between something being horny and being slightly ridiculous. There is an element of high camp and absurdity when you're getting your kicks out of role-playing a scene from Batman. To quote another line from the play, "sex is pretty silly when you think about it"…
What can you tell us about the main characters? Are they easy to rate to?
The main characters in the play are a middle-aged couple, Tim and Tom, who have never before ventured into the world of fetish. Tim has always harboured a secret fantasy about being Robin from the Adam West 'Batman' TV series, and his husband Tom has agreed to go ahead and help Tim fulfil his fantasy. And they certainly haven't skimped on the details. They've acquired custom-made spandex suits (having created their own superhero identities as the Stallion and his boyish sidekick, Butterfly), booked a hunky sex worker to play the evil Villainor, invented their own version of Kryptonite, and they even get threatened with a bucketful of "freeze fluid" (in reality, green goo). I won't give away whether any of them do end up being gunged during the course of the show, but anyone familiar with the 'Chekhov's Gun' theory in theatre will have a good idea of what to expect…
How are you getting the word out about the play?
Although it seems to be a comparatively niche interest, superhero play does have a few speciality websites that cater to its devotees: Eye of the Cyclone in the UK, for example, who I'd like to thank, as they have been enthusiastically retweeting all our social media to help promote the show. And Club Shoot in London hosted a superhero themed night only last weekend. We sent some flyers down for them, although sadly EastEnders and Hollyoaks hunk Matt Lapinskas, who will be donning his skintight Lycra to play Villianor, was unavailable to appear in person to hand them out!
The superhero fetish is very popular on the kink scene. A Marvel or DC film is released and the kinksters are looking for inspiration for their next outfits and thinking about how they can add other elements to their kink play. Are your characters exploring this in the play?
Horse-Play also ticks a variety of other kinky boxes: watersports, sex toys, bondage, string vests… Our Stage Management team have spent the past few weeks sourcing both rubber and leather gear, dildos, ball-gags, riding crops, strait jackets, nappies, nipple clamps, sounds, even a St Andrew's cross! The props list runs to several pages, although the bottle of poppers which plays a crucial part in the action was actually provided by one of our cast members. (You'll have to guess which one!)
We know that kinksters are always looking for fun and interesting ways to play, and to adapt their fetishes. Have you got any tricks up your sleeve for us to look forward to?
What else can I tell you about the play without giving away all the fun surprises we have in store for our audiences? Well, we have a very attractive cast. As well as the aforementioned, and very gorgeous Matt Lapinskas, Holby City's David Ames and The Royals' Jake Maskall will also be squeezing into their spandex suits. And thankfully, as well as being hot, the cast is also really, really funny. If it doesn't sound too self-indulgent. They still make me laugh when I watch them rehearse and by now, I've heard the lines more times than I can remember.
I'm excited to see the play, and I'm intrigued about whether I going to see anything of myself in the characters, the story, and the types of roleplays I get up to sometimes.
We're now working as hard as we can to fill the auditorium at Riverside Studios so that the actors can enjoy full houses and the whole place can really shake with laughter. Obviously, we'd like to attract a regular, theatre-going audience but we also want to welcome the kink and fetish community, particularly those who are LGBT+. We want to get people in who wouldn't normally think of going to the theatre. If that includes you, maybe you'll appreciate watching a show about an aspect of your life which you don't normally get to see represented in mainstream entertainment.
Where can our readers and members find more information about the play?
Do come and find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @HorsePlayLondon. The characters certainly have 'the ride of their lives'. We think you will too.