H-O-T-B-O-I

Tim Fountain
Soho Theatre
(2004)

Publicity Image

H-O-T-B-O-I is a 75-minute long, one-queen showcase for the talents of Bette Bourne. He plays Reg, an ageing gay man looking for excitement and a renewal of love.

Reg has lived with Terry just off the Portobello Road since 1983 and while they are comfortable companions, the glow of sex has disappeared, seemingly forever.

This unemployed technophobe who moonlights as a drag artiste has time on his hands. When Terry buys a computer, Reg meets Malcolm at his computer class, an habitué of Manlink, a sort of virtual Hampstead Heath.

There, Reg finds H-O-T-B-O-I or more prosaically, Carl, a gorgeous student, forty years his junior. Love and fun soon get mixed up and the consequences are hardly surprising. For those of a shy disposition though, their sexual antics might be.

Where writer, Tim Fountain, director, Natasha Betteridge and the performer really score is in the portrayal of a rather lonely man who doesn't recognise happiness while he is wallowing in it.

Bourne, in compulsory lumberjack shirt and denims, gets many laughs with his laid-back, almost drunken delivery and by the end, the audience feels as if it has known and loved Reg for years, not little more than an hour.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher