The Boys in the Band
Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto are among the stars in this new production of the classic play set at a Manhattan birthday celebration
The world may be a completely different place to when Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band was first performed off-Broadway in 1968 (and filmed two years later by William Friedkin), but its dialogue still stings, and its spirit and lack of stereotyping make it feel as fresh as ever.
Producer Ryan Murphy and director Joe Mantello (who also helmed the 2018 stage version) bring together a lively cast featuring pretty much every young gay actor in Hollywood, and the venom flies. Zachary Quinto sizzles as the guest of honour, Harold, at a birthday party thrown for him by best friend Michael (Parsons), who still harbours feelings for ex-lover/best friend Donald (Bomer). Murphy regulars Andrew Rannells and Charlie Carver are among the other guests, while Michael’s old roommate Alan (Hutchison), as the sole heterosexual presence at the party, is the disrupting force that causes them to all face their own internalised self-hatred.
The controversy of the original has somewhat dissipated in 2020, given the entire plot seems to hinge on how shocking it is to see a group of gay men together. Better to consider the film as a window into a different time: into the shame and guilt of the pre-Stonewall era that leads these men to lash out, and the way in which a lack of power can slowly erode away at you until even your own friends become the enemy.
Streaming on Netflix now