It’s an old story – a celebrity, er, pulls off in a lay-by – maybe loosening some garments to accommodate a painful stomach condition … or, in the case of high-profile newsreader Geoffrey Hammond (Robert Daws) graphically told in newish writer Sam Peter Jackson‘s Private Property at the Trafalgar Studios, triple-fingering a bare-assed rent-boy in full view of the paparazzi.

The damage limitation is in the hands of Nigel Harman as an oily PR with his own agenda, and since nobody does outraged embarrassment as well as Daws, their dialogue crackles with deft sideswipes at media, celebrity and hypocrisy. Add to the triangle a gauche rentboy played with History Boys knowingness by Steven Webb and you have an entertaining black comedy of cleverly three-dimensional gay characters. This in itself is unusual for the West End, but to have them played by actors of this calibre is an even rarer delight.

The piece mostly moves snappily and unpredictably and whilst the interactive TV footage of baying media mob and preening Stephen Fry are somewhat contrived, there’s a plot pivot towards the end of the first act which guarantees you’ll return after the interval.

Hannah Berrigan‘s production deserves a wider audience – with a bit of tightening this should transfer – but despite the intimate 40-seat setting and a short run of less than 30 peformances, it hasn’t attracted Nigel Harman’s EastEnders fanbase to see him undressed, and there are seats available.

Go, definitely, but shop around for available discounts.

Public Property continues at Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall SW1, until 5 December. Tickets from Ambassador Group’s website

Londonist Originally published on Londonist