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David Bedella makes a convincing Arnold Beckoff, a husky-voiced, gay, New York drag queen looking for love and contented domesticity.

In The International Stud, written before the explosion of the AIDS epidemic, there’s a dated innocence to wisecracking Arnold’s initiation into the pleasures of anonymous sex in the backroom of a bar, and desperation in his relationship with Joe McFadden’s closet bisexual teacher Ed.

A year or so later, Fugue in a Nursery sees Arnold and the devoted new pretty boy in his life (Tom Rhys Harries, fresh out of drama school) weekending with Ed and his new wife. An enormous bed dominates the set as the quartet tumble into various permutations in their attempts to make sense of the situation.

Finally, in Widows and Children First emotions run dangerously high when Arnold confronts his widowed mother (Sara Kestelman) with not only the troubled (but surprisingly perceptive) teen he’s in the process of adopting, but also the depth of his own grief at the senseless death of his lover.

Simultaneously pertinent and something of a period piece, this heartfelt triptych mixes sentiment with snappy one-liners. It amuses and entertains, but there’s no denying the pain behind Arnold’s quest for both honesty and fulfilment in Douglas Hodge’s slimmed down and welcome revival.

Menier Chocolate Factory , 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU
Tube | London Bridge
Until 12th August
£29.50 (MealDeals £37)

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