Based on a true story, Stanley is a single gay guy living with his mother in her mobile home on a trailer park in Pontiac, Michigan. He dreams of moving away to San Francisco, and fantasizes over one of the waiters at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, the waiter is straight. When an advert appears for contestants to appear on the Jill Johnson talk show in New York to reveal their secret crush, Stanley jumps at the opportunity. On the show he will reveal his infatuation to the waiter, Lee.

The first two-thirds of the play moves comfortably along in familiar territory – small-town angst with aspirations of achieving something greater. There are some comic moments interspersed with occasional songs from faded drag queen Sally played by Dave Lynn. However, it’s when the play moves towards its tragic denouement that it loses its way.

The shift from Graham Norton chat show to Greek tragedy is abrupt, the transformation handled without nuance. It feels like the director has slammed on the brakes of a sports car in the fast lane of a motorway. The crucial seduction scene between Stanley and Lee lacks conviction.

As a light-hearted exposé of the superficiality of chat shows and their disregard for their participants, the play works, however it is once it moves from the skin-deep that the play moves into troubled waters.

Chris Britton is convincing as Stanley and Helen Sirling is strong as his mom, but Louie Westwood as Brian, the camp dresser, steals the show.

Do you have a Secret Crush? by LAMBCO Productions is playing at the Lost Theatre, Stockwell from 2 – 21 August.