Grindr The Opera (An Unauthorised Parody), directed by the brilliant William Spencer and designed by the visionary David Shields, delivers a bold and innovative theatrical experience at London’s Union Theatre. This groundbreaking and highly risqué production explores the intricacies of contemporary gay relationships in the digital age, presenting a thought-provoking adult narrative that challenges societal norms and delves into the complexities of human connections in all of its darkest, dirty and sometimes painful elements.
Leading the cast of ‘Grindr’ is the immensely talented Christian Lunn, whose portrayal of the main character, Grindr, is nothing short of exceptional. Lunn’s remarkable acting skills, combined with his powerful singing voice, and otherworldly physique, create a captivating and emotionally charged performance. Lunn’s presence on stage is magnetic, and his ability to command the audience’s attention throughout the show is truly remarkable.
Equally captivating is Santino Zapico in his portrayal of Devon. Zapico embodies the complexities of the character with incredible skill and nuance. His stage presence is captivating, and he effortlessly conveys Devon’s internal conflict between the longing for genuine connection and the allure of the superficiality and sexual hunger offered by the digital app realm. Zapico’s performance is a masterclass in subtlety and emotional range and perfectly balanced against his stage partner Billy J Vale in the role of Tom.
Dereck Walker also shines in the role of Don, bringing maturity, charisma and depth to the character. His commanding stage presence and exceptional vocal abilities make for a heartfelt performance. He flawlessly captures the multifaceted nature of Don, portraying a character torn between his desires and the societal heteronormative expectations placed upon him.
The staging of ‘Grindr’, designed by David Shields, is compact yet ingeniously crafted. The backlit set and projections work harmoniously to create a visually stunning and immersive experience. The clever use of lighting and projections adds depth to the performance, effectively transporting the audience into the “otherworldly” realm of Grindr. Shields’ artistic vision perfectly complements the storytelling, enhancing the emotional impact of the narrative.
What truly sets ‘Grindr’ apart is its fearlessness in tackling taboo subjects and exploring the dark side of online dating, gay hook up culture and modern issues. The production is both hilarious, and heartbreaking, shocking and yet familiar. It exposes the vulnerability and consequences inherent in seeking love, sex and connection through digital platforms. It truly pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre and is a testament to the power of theatre to provoke all kinds of emotions. Highly recommended contemporary theatre, but be warned, it is not for the easily shocked or offended.
‘Grindr’ runs at the Union Theatre, London until 8th July 2023. Tickets can be purchased here: http://uniontheatre.biz/show/grindr-the-opera
Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin
Reviewed: 7th June 2023
North West End UK Rating: