Sex, lies and provocation. London’s Jermyn Street Theatre starts 2017 by staging the premiere of Tom Jacobson’s controversial play about entrapment, The Twentieth Century Way.
This heart-racing two-man show is set in Los Angeles 1914 – a place where modern world reality meets 19th Century bigotry.
It was a time when law enforcement agencies were on a collision course with the clandestine and illicit gay community. In this environment, the police department of Long Beach, California hire two actors as “vice specialists”.
Their role was to entrap “social vagrants” in a sexual act by posing as homosexual men.
Lurking in public restrooms and bathhouses, they enticed likely suspects into exposing their genitals, then arrested them, and in so doing earn $15 a shot. Thirty-one men were arrested and at least one committed suicide.
The American Way tells the true story of a dark chapter in the history of gay rights.
Two actors take on an array of characters from cops to vagrants, lawyers to hacks, bait to quarry, in a work that tackles the thorny themes of persecution, secret love, sex and deception.
The UK premiere of this hard-hitting absurdist tragi-comedy stars James Sindall and Fraser Wall. It is directed by Marylynne Anderson-Cooper, a member of the Young Vic Directors Programme and the Theatre503 devising company.
The Twentieth Century Way is the first Jermyn Street Theatre production of 2017. Other upcoming work includes Tanya Holt’s musical take on the dark heart of growing-up and the dark arts of parenting – Cautionary Tales For Daughters, the revival of Ron Hutchinson’s acclaimed black comedy – Beau Brummell – An Elegant Madness and the UK Premiere of Stephen Sondheim’s The Frogs.
The Twentieth Century Way runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre from January 7-28 with a preview performance January 6.