Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse – all forever 27. An exclusive club for the brightest stars who burnt out before their time. But even if you’re not rich and famous, everyone wants to be remembered for something.. Forever 27, A one man, dark comedy with life, love and lust of an extraordinary gay man living by the motto ‘live fast, die young’…
Taking its title from Joe Guse’s study of this ‘club’ of music stars, all of whom have left their mark on society – as Patrick Seymour’s lead character Mark comments “people who didn’t even know them, are crying over them”- Mark’s subsequent dark obsession with joining this club through a ‘beautiful death’ if he has nothing to show for his life by the end of his 27th year is the framework for this exploration of humanity.
What follows are flashbacks to key moments in his life – the premature death of his father and following fallout with his family; his coming out to his Nan; meeting an unrequited love on a train. Ordinary moments in style, but told in an extraordinary way. Seymour is utterly brilliant to watch and carries the success of the production on his shoulders. It is testament to him that he is able to carry the play whilst maintaining the interest of the audience.
Seymour’s major success is in making an unsympathetic character into something more real. His confusion of who he is and where he fits within society is tangible and real and scenes taking place at Manchester Pride have an atmosphere that you feel might well repeat itself for several young people every year.
The recurring inept telephone calls from Mark’s mother – she is never able to find the words she wants to say and ends up re-recording many of her messages – become wearing after a while. Although a very clever device to relay another part of the story, and a character we never actually meet, the joke has worn thin by the third time – but there is a bittersweet payoff at the end of the play.
The props, used where they are do not distract too much from the story – the messy bedroom perhaps reflecting the disorder within Mark’s life and Seymour does well to transform the studio theatre of the Lass O’Gowrie into a number of different locations convincingly.
Writer Sarah Evans has crafted a solid story, elevated by the remarkable Seymour, with humour and sadness running through the play as time relentlessly ticks by. The subject matter may be nervy to some, but most people can relate to having to deal with their own self-worth as Mark is forced to. With a few tweaks to the script to tighten it up further, Forever 27 might well shine on for longer yet.
The Fiction Stroker gives Forever 27 three strokes out of five: