EuroVision is a gay farce with a few songs. It’s not a musical!
First produced by the London Gay Theatre Company at the Drill Hall in 1992, it was revived by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Vaudeville Theatre in London in 1994, starring James Dreyfus and Anita Dobson and with music by Jason Carr.
Written in 1992, Tim Luscombe’s first play is a very camp, gay comedy of misadventure. It explores the relationship and ultimate love story between Gary and Kevin, two young gay men from London, who adventure to Rome for the annual Eurovision Song Contest, set against a whirling background of ancient Rome and a modern TV studio.
Gary, a box office clerk, is the ultimate Eurovision fan: obsessed, nerdy and a hopeless romantic. Kevin, a British Airways steward, is cynical about love, promiscuous and hardened. They have been best friends for years. Gary is writing a book, in his free time, about the love affair between the Roman Emperor and his gay lover Antinous.
They arrive in Rome and head for the backstage area of the contest where the contestants smoke, drink, chat and bitch. They see Katya Europa, one-time celebrated Italian chanteuse and host of this year’s Contest.
After rowing over Gary’s sycophantic compulsive star-chasing behaviour, Kevin storms off to find more appropriate diversions. He finds himself in an art gallery looking at a sculpture of Antinous. He starts chatting up a Dutch tourist.
Their adventures compound on each other in a tumbling torrent of madcap mishap. Gary becomes complicatedly involved with the Spanish singer, both Gary and Kevin become possessed by, respectively, the ghosts of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinous, the Spanish and the Greek entries get up to no good in a broom cupboard and no one can find the Macedonian entry. The boys find love on the Spanish Steps with the help of Katya Europa.
Hailed in London on its opening as a punch on the nose of Prime Minister Major’s Conservatism, it is at once a zany, crazy, camp rumbustuous odyssey into Rome present and past, which pushes the limits of camp to new heights, and an unlikely love story between the British Airways steward and his box-office clerk friend.
[For non European readers: The Eurovision Song Contest is a pan-European song festival invented after the 2WW to unite Europe in an annual evening of song and friendly competition. Nearly 60 years on, it ploughs gamely on, generally regarded as an unmissable, hilarious and naff evening of big frocks and bad telly. TV audience figures are regularly around 400 million. Very popular with gay men, old ladies and lonely teenage girls. But an audience wouldn’t necessarily need to know this to enjoy the play!]