Love between a rent boy and a middle aged man, an absent father returns, love overcomes obstacles, and a mind and body split… it’s our final reviews bulletin from the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
A Peculiar Arrangement ***
This unlikely love story between a closeted, middle-aged man and a rent boy, written and directed by Paul Winters, has lots of funny lines and is at it’s strongest in the banter between the two leads. Steven Masterson as rent boy, John, has lovely comic timing, while Blaise Reid’s Mike, is sympathetic in his emotional confusion.
The rent boy and the closet case are stock characters in gay theatre, however, and if you use them, there has to be a very good reason. At no point in Winters’ script does dull, staid Mike ever discuss his new love object’s career choice, which seems very unlikely. And while it’s true that many men come out later in life, desire almost always has deep and long roots. Mike’s sexual realisation seems to emerge out of nowhere, without any context. I didn’t buy it.
Winters can write very good dialogue, and at times I was reminded of Roddy Doyle’s excellent Two Pints series on Facebook. I would have loved more of Mike and John just shooting the breeze, with their backstory emerging through that. The characters and performances are strong enough not to need a tenuous plot dragging them down.
‘A Peculiar Arrangement’ continues at the Pearse Centre until May 13 at 9pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm. tickets here.
Lines in the Sand ****
Whilst father-son relationships loom large in a lot of theatre, it is unusual for one to focus on one between a young gay man and his until-now, absent and unknown dad. This finely written piece by Jim Dalglish makes a successful attempt to fill that gap.
The troubled teen here, played beautifully by Nick Bucchianeri, sarcastic and raging one moment, frightened and tearful the next, is saved from a savage attack by a mysterious stranger. Played with subtlety and grace by Tony Travostino, this man seems just a little too interested in the boy for it to be healthy.
The complexity of the characters’ lives emerges in a way that makes even the off-stage ones seem real, so though the boy’s unseen mother is at first presented as a woefully neglectful parent, by the end of the play you have an unexpected empathy for her and the choices she has made. It requires very skillful writing to achieve that.
A special mention must go to the beautiful, line-drawn graphics by Jackie Reeves that form the backdrop of the play, and are very effective in creating the different settings. Recommended.
‘Lines In The Sand’ continues at the Pearse centre until May 13th at 7.30pm with a matinee on Saturday 13th at 4.00pm, tickets here.
Love Trumps Everything *** How We Glow *****
The appearance of Trump in the title Love Trumps Everything, has nothing to do with the orange man in the Whitehouse. Instead, it’s the thread that loosely binds three short plays where love overcomes life’s unavoidable obstacles. The first layer in this sandwich is Carolyn Gage’s ‘Calamity Jane Sends a Message to Her Daughter’, an intriguing story, brilliantly delivered by Maria Blaney and well directed by Philippa Alford. If it wasn’t altogether clear to me how this piece fitted into an LGBT festival, that’s no matter.
The sandwich filling is light. Kathleen Warnock gives us a personal insight into her journey to equal marriage with ‘How To Get Married in Five Steps and 17 Years’. And then, we are topped with Candice Perry’s ‘Made in Heaven’. This is a very amusing tale which suggests that in heaven, the big G will make sure we spend eternity with the right partner, even if it’s not who think it is!
A welcome accompaniment to these pieces is How We Glow, a cleverly crafted verbatim script woven from interviews with LGBT youth in New York. It is wonderfully performed by a bunch of bright, beautiful actors and certainly left me with reassurance that the kids really are alright.
Much credit to Jamila Humphrie and Emily Schorr Lesnick for this refreshing and important social document.
‘Love Trumps Everything’ and ‘How We Glow’ continue at the Teacher’s Club until May 13 at 7.30pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 2.30pm, tickets here.
Aren’t we all looking for body and mind balance? Well, as an alternative to your weekly yoga class come and have a look this little piece of theatrical beauty.
Spool is super clever two-hander with the most interesting of characters, Mind and Body. The two are very close – they’ve spent all their lives together for Christ’s sake – but unfortunately they don’t seem to be getting on so well of late. Mind has a bit of a superiority complex and doesn’t seem to appreciate the amazing contribution of Body.
With great hilarity, the pair decide to go their separate ways. Finally, freed of the shackles of the other, they can pursue their dreams without impediment. Or can they?
This is a delightful story, exquisitely written, directed and played by Otto Farrant and Finn Cooke. Gorgeous choreography, music and staging ensure all our senses are satisfied as we immerse ourselves in the wonderful world of the play and yearn for a reconciliation of the troubled pair. It’s a must-see.
Spool continues at the Teacher’s Club until May 13 at 9pm, with a matinee on Saturday at 4pm, tickets here.