James Malcolm: Marry Me Chris Warner - review

“It’s 2016, you can no longer give a bad review to a man in a dress!” is James Malcolm’s parting shot as he flounces offstage in a nasty froufrou bridal gown at the end of Marry Me Chris Warner.

It’s a cute nod to how far New Zealand has come even in the lifetime of a gay male comedian born a decade after the Homosexual Law Reform Act.

Whether he’s in a frock or not, Malcolm doesn’t deserve a bad review. But – as with this country’s steps towards societal inclusion of LGBTIA* communities, rather than simply “acceptance” or worse, “tolerance” - there’s more work to be done.

The premise of the show is a delight. Malcolm is in love with Shortland Street’s resident smooth operator, and they’re about to get hitched. Trouble is, the star of “New Zealand’s most popular reality TV show” is late for his own wedding, and so we get to know his “bride” in the meantime.

Malcolm weaves his own apparent story – a fairly eventful one for a 20-year-old from Lower Hutt – with that of the groom’s messy small screen trail of marriages, romances and flings. As he discusses – and disses – Dr Warner’s previous paramours, Malcolm tells tales of life as a young gay man in the Hutt, boy scout butt-sniffing and weird hook-ups not the least of them.

The depth of the bride’s delusion in relation to his fiance is gradually revealed, in lines which are mostly more amusing than laugh out loud-worthy.

The pace becomes laboured towards the end but it’s nothing some judicious surgical intervention - tightening and polishing - on the script won’t fix. Marry Me Chris Warner has a gem of an idea at its heart and, like its creator, is noteworthy in its promise.

Marry Me Chris Warner, until May 14, The Classic Studio. Book tickets.