Kevin Elyot’s My Night with Reg follows the ups and downs of a circle of gay friends in London over a period of several years, and tackles with brutal honesty the impact that AIDS/HIV had on the gay community during its height in the 1980s, as well as examining the pain of unrequited love and the joy of friendship. The play was first performed at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 31 March 1994 before transferring to the West End.
The play's action takes place over three scenes, all of them set in the living room of Guy’s flat in London: during Guy's flat-warming party (Scene 1); after Reg's funeral, some years later (Scene 2); and after Guy's funeral (Scene 3).
The group of friends, most of them in their thirties, meet at irregular intervals, often at Guy's place. Guy himself is a lonely man. Ever since their university days, he has had a crush on John, but he has never dared to tell him about it. Rather, he lives a solitary life, which he only spices up with phone sex and an occasional visit to a gay pub – that is where he meets 18 year-old Eric, who then helps him decorate his new flat. On holiday on the island of Lanzarote, he meets a gay man who eventually forces himself on Guy and has unprotected sex with him – the last thing Guy has been looking for. At his flatwarming party, he has just come back from his holiday and is still quite shocked about what happened. It is hard for him not to start crying when, as a present, John gives him a cookery book specialising in dishes for one.
The most popular member of the circle is Reg, who is conspicuously absent from the party (he doesn't in fact appear in the play at all). Reg has had a long-term relationship with Daniel, but Daniel himself suspects Reg of occasionally being unfaithful to him. In fact Reg seems to be sleeping with every man he can get hold of (even, it seems, with the vicar). In the course of the play, John, Benny and even his seemingly faithful companion Bernie have secret sex with Reg. Ironically, they all confide in Guy. It hurts Guy most to hear that John – whom he himself fancies – is having an affair with Reg, thus betraying their mutual friend Daniel. After his fling with Reg, Benny panics because he thinks he might have contracted HIV, but he does not confess it to his partner, Bernie.
When Reg is dying from AIDS, he is looked after by his partner, Daniel. Ironically again, the next one to die is Guy, the only one who has not had sex with Reg and who seems to have been infected with HIV when he was raped during his holiday in Lanzarote. Guy bequeaths his new flat to the love of his life, John, who does not need it at all because he comes from a rich background. In the final scene, John tells Eric that he has discovered a hoard of memorabilia in the flat dating back to his and Guy's student days. He realises – belatedly – that Guy was in love with him.
The Royal Court premiere was directed by Roger Michell and designed by William Dudley, with Anthony Calf as John, David Bamber as Guy, Joe Duttine as Eric, John Sessions as Daniel, Roger Frost as Bernie and Kenneth MacDonald as Benny.
The production transferred to the Criterion Theatre, London, on 15 November 1994, then to the Playhouse Theatre, London, on 27 June1995.
My Night with Reg won the Evening Standard and the Olivier Awards for Best Comedy and was later turned into a feature film directed by Roger Michell with a screenplay by Kevin Elyot, featuring the original Royal Court cast. The film was released in 1997.
The play was revived at the Donmar Warehouse, London, in July 2014, in a production directed by Robert Hastie.