Guy is a brand new musical from Leoe & Hyde, the creators of last year’s smash Buxton Fringe hit The Marriage of Kim K. Guy is a fat gay man, more into Minecraft than sport, yet desperate to meet “the one”. Facing the cruelly judgmental world of online dating, he embraces gym culture in his attempt to find acceptance.
If a musical is all about the songs, have no fear: these are uniformly excellent, and composer Stephen Hyde has a great range from upbeat-pop to power-ballad. The music is mostly electropop, evoking the high-tempo hedonistic world of gym work-outs and parties that Guy struggles to fit into, while also reflecting his hopeful desire to find love.
The songs do what they are meant to do, and move the story on. Leoe Mercer is a great lyricist; not only are his words memorable, they are audacious – sometimes I couldn't quite believe what he managed to get to scan. And I’m sure more than one person went home singing “Click like a lightswitch” to themselves. Occasionally, however, the dialogue outside the songs can be a little unwieldy, and the first scene where Aziz and Guy meet feels rather heavy on exposition.
Alongside Leoe & Hyde's track record, Guy offers some star power, in the shape of Seann Miley Moore – who you should remember from The X Factor (he wuz robbed). He is superb as Aziz; initially appearing cast to type as the most flamboyant, he is actually the most down-to-earth and together one of all. It's nicely done, subverts our expectations, and allows Miley Moore to show his range.
But the success of the show hinges on Guy. As his name suggests, he needs to be an everyman: someone we can all identify with, someone with insecurities and fears but also talents and interests, drawing us into the hope that he can find someone he can click with. Brendan Matthew achieves all this, and is the heart of the show. The interplay between all four actors is sharp, particularly in montage-style scenes when multiple characters are messaging on Grindr, and the choreography throughout complements the performance without being overwhelming.
After a strong opening though, there are times when the pace drops and the plot meanders, before arriving at a very busy denouement. Some important issues – including racism and eating disorders – feel a little crammed-in, rather than being given the space they deserve. And although the uplifting message of friendship over narcissism still comes through strongly, there is a curious moment where prejudice appears reversed and casual sex is described in terms of “mutual prostitution”.
A gay rom-com set in a millenial world of Grindr dating and gym-bunnies may sound rather niche, but the specifics create a believable story exploring absolutely universal desires. We all want to fit in – yet also be accepted for who we truly are. Throw in marvellous songs, choreography and acting, and Guy is another hit for Leoe & Hyde.