Read time:6 minute, 47 seconds

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Directed by Scott Le Crass          Written by Ben Fensome, Performed by David O’Reilly 

There is a saying, ‘a star is born’, after an opening night for a new and upcoming DIVA, usually associated with a female performer. However, it should most definitely be ascribed to LGBTQ+ actor and comedian David O’Reilly, whose show “BUFF” is blowing away theatre audiences at The Vaults. One man shows can be hit and miss, and it takes a highly skilled actor to hold the attention of theatre goers while performing a solo show. However in “BUFF”, David O’Reilly really gave us a master class in acting. 

Rather than addressing the audience David chats to a host of characters, from his buff flat mate and his awful ex-boyfriend, to a class of primary school kids to name but a few, not forgetting the succession of dates he goes on. His ability as an actor shines, as you can clearly visualise who he is talking to; he ignites your imagination.

A play about a plus size gay primary school teacher certainly did not entice me at first; I was terrified it was going to follow the likes of Little Britain’s David’s  – “I am the only gay in the village” – and be one long joke about overweight people. Knowing the misery that many people live with, who are not body confident or struggle with their weight, I find the topic uncomfortable, and not a laughing matter. 

It was a delight to be proved wrong. Sure, there is a lot to laugh about in “BUFF”. You´re taken on a funny yet very moving journey through what it is like to be a gay man.  It’s about someone who is a genuinely nice person looking for love and acceptance in a world, where the buff man often rules, and where people judge you on how you look. 

Going to see “BUFF” should come with a warning:  “BRING HANKIES “. What seems funny to start with will have you crying in the end, as the words “Please, I am a nice person” fall from David’s mouth as he drops to the ground in desperation, finding life too much. It had the entire theatre in floods of tears.

Don’t forget to rush to get tickets for this unique diamond of a show. Plus, a trip to The Vaults Theatre in London is worth the price of admission alone. 

Click HERE for tickets and more information about “BUFF”.

Ten Questions for LGBTQ+ comedian, actor. David O’Reilly 

1) What has the audience’s reaction to BUFF been David?

It’s been incredible. The audience reaction has been very overwhelming. It’s been received so well and has clearly resonated with more people that I ever thought possible, and that is such a testament to Bens writing and Scott’s direction. What’s struck me the most, has been the mix of people coming to see the show. It’s been a joy to work on and I’m very excited to do the show again.

2) In the often narcissistic gay scene have you felt ostracised yourself by gay men?

I think most people can relate to feeling ostracised. I’m obviously a larger guy and some people don’t find that attractive and that’s fine. The cruelty towards larger people on websites is often a hard pill to swallow. The play details an honest reflection of some of these cruelties and the lived realities of so many people trying to navigate their way through the modern-day dating phenomena of dating apps. 

3) With the launch of clubs like XXL and online sites for bigger men, do you think things are getting easier for larger gay men?

For some men, it may be. I know guys who feel targeted websites for bigger me are not their thing and therefore the mainstream sites are what they most feel comfortable with. In my opinion, any space or apps that celebrate a positive body image are a good thing, and something that is needed for many people who do not fit the mould of being an uber muscly, slim gay man.  

4) What has been your best date and are you currently single? 

I am single and to be honest I’ve not really been on that many dates. 

5) Back in the late 70’s movies like “The Ritz“ highlighted ‘Chubby Chasers’. What would you feel about dating a man whose fetish was the larger man?

Each to their own. I can only speak to my experiences and having dated someone who had a very clear type for a larger man, it wasn’t for me. I’ve found myself in situations where I was told I’m not fat enough, or that I’m too fat. I was compared to pics of myself a few years ago on my instagram and told that how I looked in a particular photo would be a desirable size, even though I wasn’t that size when I met that individual. 

6) How was life growing up for you?

I have the most amazing parents and family. My school years were very hard; when I started putting on weight I was bullied horrendously, then being gay on top of that made me a prime target for the bullies. All of this led to me not having many friends growing up. It still affects me now but I can say that I am now lucky enough to be rich in friends, and have some of the best friends a person could ever wish to have. 

7) It is great how many Irish men are up for Oscars this year. Who are your role models?

It’s so amazing and so deserved, but also Kerry Condon, a wonderful Irish actress, has been nominated. Brendan, Paul, Barry, Kerry, and Colin all have such pride in their work and for their country. Having irish actors nominated for an Oscar is an utter joy and I think most Irish people will agree that when the nominations were announced that there was joy and pride for us all, as many of these actors were actually friends of ours. 

There are so many people I look up to. Growing up one of my favourites was “Keeping Up Appearances” so Patricia Routhledge obviously. June Rodgers, an Irish performer is a huge role model; she was the first person I looked at on stage and saw make people laugh, and I think it was her I caught the bug from. I connect so much with females and have done so from an early age. Samantha Spiro, Jennifer Saunders, Fiona Shaw, Jacqueline Boatswain, Kathy Burke, Celia Imre, Catherine Tate, Bharti Patel, Nicky Wardley, Julie Graham, Shobna Gulati, Harriet Thorpe, Tameka Empson, Sharon Horgan are all women I look at and just revel in their successes as brilliant people and actresses. They are so inspiring.  Not forgetting my favourites Denise Welch and Sherrie Hewson, they are great pals too. 

8) What would your ideal man to go out with be like? 

Someone who is kind and empathic. Someone who enjoys laughing. Someone honest and who isn’t dismissive or rude to other people. 

9 Where is the show moving to next?

We have two more shows of “BUFF” at The Vaults. One on the 18th February at 4.45pm and one on the 19th February 4.45pm. Tickets are £13.00, and the show is only an hour long. So, you can grab a Sunday lunch before and then a drink afterwards and still be home in time for Dancing on Ice. Lol!

10) What would you change about London if you were mayor for the day?

I love London and people are having a tough time right now, so anything that could make life a little bit easier for everyone going through the cost-of-living crisis would be top of my list. 

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Steven Smith

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