Playwright John O’Donovan’s first full-length play is set in the small Irish town of Ennis (where he grew up) in the wake of the 2015 constitutional referendum that validated same-sex marriage. It follows two young gay men in love, and the prospect of a marriage between two men hangs over much of the action. But this isn’t a play about marriage equality. Instead, it’s about the knottier stuff of gay lives in certain corners of the world, and the kind of people who’ll never be the poster boys for the progressive cause. Mikey (Eddie Orton) and Casey (Elijah Williams) are stuck on the rooftop of a house. They’ve just robbed a petrol station and found a significant stash of cocaine that’ll power much of their conversation for the next 90 minutes. The police aren’t far off, and while Mikey and Casey could wait them out and come down the next morning, it’s getting cold on that roof and they’re meant to be attending a party together. So they’re stuck, and we’re stuck with them. At least they’ve got each other – and their cocaine – to keep them warm. There’s no violence on stage, but there’s plenty of it described in O’Donovan’s full-throttle, finely observed script. Orton’s Mikey moves like an animal who’s been backed into a corner and has just one instinct – to explode, fight back and cause maximum damage – and the only real question is exactly when he’ll be tipped over the edge. He’s not totally comfortable around the hyper-masculine and quietly homophobic people he grew up
This is a review of the 2019 Melbourne season of Cake Daddy at Midsumma Festival. There’s been a lot of discussion about identity in the general community, and it’s a theme that has come to dominate this year’s Midsumma Festival. We’re talking about gender identity, sexual identity, racial identity. Disability is finally fully on the agenda. But fat? Well fat, according to mainstream social norms, just ain’t right. More than this, it’s wrong, even has a whiff of immorality about it. It isn’t only the people who fall outside the ideal of physical beauty who are trapped by this mentality; all of us have become dangerously obsessed with our bodies, and the fuel that drives them, and we’re looking around for someone to blame. Ross Anderson-Doherty is a Belfast theatre-maker who has descended on Melbourne’s Midsumma like a giant pink inflatable swimming aid, and he’s here to tell us all about, wait for it… Cakewatchers! It’s a new, totally fabulous, completely indefatigable weight loss scheme, unlike all the other, failure-inducing weight loss schemes that have come before. This one has three central tenets: “Watch the cake!”, “Know your cryminals!” [sic] and “Practise your manoeuvres!”. Ross is going to take us through and out of this new routine, with a touch of autobiography on the way down. Cake Daddy is best described as a three-way collaboration between Anderson-Doherty, playwright Lachlan Philpott and director Alyson Campbell; an attempt to wrangle the separate aesthet
This is a review from the 2019 Melbourne season of The Butch Monologues at Midsumma Festival. One of the defining features of this year’s Midsumma Festival is its total commitment to the idea of diversity; that multiverse of identities making up the alphabet soup that is the LGBTQIA community. This has seen a really sophisticated engagement with issues around gender, around intersectionality, around the very future of queerness. Of course, you don’t get a future without having a past, and a new verbatim theatre show out of the UK, The Butch Monologues, gives us a salutary reminder that the struggles with binary gender identity have deep roots. They could even been seen as the baseline of the queer experience. Writer Laura Bridgeman and director Julie McNamara have collated stories from “Butches, Transmen and Gender Rebels from across the world”, by which they mean the US, the UK and the Caribbean. While it would have been nice to have some Australian stories in the mix, we still get plenty of local flavour – most of the readers who perform these monologues are locals who speak in their own accents, and bring their own inflections. It gives the work a truly collegiate feel, a sense of a global community in action. The storytellers vary in age, but we get a fantastic range of older voices to coexist with the younger perspectives; this is a show that subtly but powerfully champions the pioneers of gender who put their own bodies on the line before gender fluidity was even a co
Director and choreographer Shaun Parker has a reputation for combining highly physical choreography with striking soundscapes, and his latest collaboration with Bulgarian songwriter and performance artist Ivo Dimchev looks to be no exception. Set in a space that is part cocktail bar, part jungle, and with an original score performed live by cabaret crooner Dimchev, the work interrogates ideas around masculinity, male power, control and group dynamics to expose the brutality of the macho tradition and the human toll of toxic masculinity.
Mardi Gras just wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a big show from Trevor Ashley. This year, the cabaret and drag artist is returning to the Opera House's biggest venue for a glitzy gala featuring some of his famous friends: showbiz royalty Rhonda Burchmore, comedian Tom Ballard, singers Tim Campbell and Shauna Jensen, actor-turned-crooner Hugh Sheridan, and Oxford Street legend Minnie Cooper. They'll be joined by a 12-piece orchestra. And it also wouldn't be Mardi Gras without a party: there's a post-show function in the Opera House's Northern Foyer, with beautiful harbour views and sounds from DJ Victoria Anthony.
This club night is the closing event for Koori Gras following a week of workshops, talks and performances by and for queer First Nations performers at Carriageworks (Feb 18 to 23). Head down earlier in the day for Sequins and Giggles, a panel discussion exploring spaces, issues and triumphs in the First Nations drag communities at 10am. Then watch, dance, and learn with performances from workshop participants showcasing their developing fabulosity, local and interstate guest performers, DJs and renowned First Nations drag artists.
British writer Jim Cartwright was inspired to pen his 1992 play The Rise and Fall of Little Voice as a star vehicle for a young Jane Horrocks when she was appearing in his play Road. She’s an electrifying actor, but it was the vocal impersonations of Judy Garland and Ethel Merman she did as a warm-up that really caught Cartwright’s attention. The resulting play – packed with obligatory songs – tells the story of Little Voice, or LV (Geraldine Hakewill), a young girl living in a Northern British town with her drunk cyclone of a mother, Mari Hoff (Caroline O’Connor). LV is painfully shy, to say the least, and spends her days locked away in her upstairs room singing along to the records of famous divas that were her father’s pride and joy. Downstairs, Mari is looking for love, and she thinks she’s found it when thrifter and down-on-his-luck talent agent Ray Say (Joseph Del Re) starts showing interest. But it soon turns out he’s more interested in what LV can do for him than in anything Mari has to offer. It’s a story about a young woman finding her own voice, but it’s not really complex or nuanced enough to stand up as a genuinely great play in 2019. Significantly better plays about this very subject – and the way that ageing, downtrodden women like Mari are passed over – have been written in the years since. Although LV and Mari might be great roles for actors, they’re not really fully fleshed women; they’re more like the two sides of a coin that Cartwright needed to make an
The Yorkshire moors are often described as a desolate (think ‘wiley, windy’) place, and they hold a certain reputation in the literary imagination as a setting for gothic romance. The Brontë sisters grew up on the moorlands, and their Romantic literary outputs capture that dark, wild feeling of isolation, obsession and early feminist ideation over and over again. The Moors, a new play by American writer Jen Silverman, takes every trope in the Brontë handbook and queers it – collating their lonely estates and governesses and attic prisoners and shocking romances, and remixing them into an arch, surrealist play about love and anger and obsession. And also a talking dog. Emilie (Brielle Flynn) has been summoned to work as a governess in an isolated Moorland home, seduced by the hand of the head of the household, Bramwell. However, his sister Agatha (Romy Bartz), clearly in control of the home, won’t let her meet him. The other sister, Huldey (Enya Daley), dreams of fame and sadness, and confides in her diary. The maid seems to be the same person (Diana Popovska), and all the rooms seem to be same, and Emilie is told that life is different here, on the moors. As she becomes consumed by the world of the sisters and their schemes, the family dog (Thomas Campbell) falls in love with an injured moorhen (Alex Francis). The script is lively and camp even when it comments on queer desire and unhealthy possession, female oppression and rage, and is written to be sharp and blackly c
Brisbane’s boylesque wonders are back with a brand new “trash glamour circus disco” for Mardi Gras. Founded more than a decade ago as part of Brisbane’s underground scene, the group of male burlesque, drag and circus stars have gone on to tour the UK, US and Canada with their eye-popping mix of raunchy, rude and ridiculously good fun queer variety shows that challenge notions of gender, sexual orientation, race and politics. When they were last in town, for Sydney Festival 2018, we gave their glorious show a five-star review. This time around, they’ve invited a handful of carefully-selected guests from the world of queer comedy to join them, all accompanied by a pumping soundtrack of dancefloor disco.
It’s been a decade since Elijah Moshinsky's sleek, updated production of Massenet’s romantic opera was last seen. If it needed a reason to return it’s this: American tenor Michael Fabiano will be making his role debut in the title role. He'll be joined by Russian contralto Elena Maximova and a swag of Australian singers, including Stacey Alleaume and Luke Gabbedy. See what else is in the Opera Australia 2019 season.