31 October 2013

FESTIVAL: Life and Times

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
Life and Times: Episodes 1–4
National Theater of Oklahoma, Melbourne Festival, Debbie Dadon and Naomi Milgroam AO
26 October 2013
Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne
melbournefestival.com.au



Over ten hours with the Nature Theater of Oklahoma may have ruined theatre for me.

Ten hours wasn't enough.

The eventual plan is a 24-hour show, and if the next 14 hours are as joyfully glorious, astonishingly complex, and deliriously insane as the first ten, then I have to make sure that I live at least as long as Kristin Worrell, whose life and times it's based on.

Episode 1 of the Life and Times mararthon started at 2.00 pm, Episode 4 finished just after midnight and, despite hints of DVT from sitting too long in cramped seats and the mania of over-triedness and too much sugar, I wanted to go back in for Episode 5, which has been created but wasn't brought to Melbourne.

There was only one marathon performance in Melbourne, so the next chance to see it is to join them in Paris for their next stop or hope for a return to Australia, with more parts. There were individual performances of the three sections earlier in the week, but seeing them meant missing director Pavol Liska introducing the show in floral pyjamas and the cast barbequing the audience burgers after Episode 1. And there were chocolate brownies with fresh cream after Episode 2 and extra-chocolatey hot chocolate waiting in the foyer after the post-midnight standing and squealing ovation for Episodes 3 and 4.


The Nature Theater of Oklahoma are from New York. Directors Liska and Kelly Cooper took the name of a troop from an unfinished Kafka novel called Amerika. Liska grew up in Slovakia and came to Oklahoma for work when he was 18. There he learnt English and went to philopsophy and writing classes at night, and worked during the day. He met Cooper in 1992 at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and in 2004 they founded their company in New York with a commitment to  “making the work they don’t know how to make".

Since then they've toured to festivals in Europe, been commissioned, won awards and I want to go to New York and work with them.

Life and Times is a verbatim re-telling of 16 hours of phone conversations with 30-something company member Worrell. (She's on the stage, but by the time it's clear who she is, it no longer matters.) She was asked, "Can you tell me your life story?". She stared with birth and told her unremarkable, white, middle class suburban story.

And by verbatim, I – um – like mean – it's really like – well – like everything she really said. Hahaha.

There are wrong words and half thoughts and tangents that go nowhere and the endless ums and ahhs that come with finding and telling memories.

One of the, many, genius moments is also having it surtitled; so, from the first sung notes, it's clear what's going on.


Yes sung. Episode 1 is kind of like, umm, well, kind of a musical.

With choreography that's part rhythmic gymnastics and part end-of-year school concert, it begins as a solo, then there's a trio of women in grey 1970s t-shirt style uniforms who are eventually joined by three men and the four musicians – all of whom are the same person telling the story. And there's a rabbit.

The juxtaposition of un-written, un-controlled words with composed music and precise choreography makes the umms and whatevers of the recitative and harmonies unexpectedly magnificent.

Dialogue and song are never written to sound natural, because natural conversation makes so little sense. But when it's scored and controlled by rhythm and sound, this stream of blahblahblahs makes endless sense and draws us in with its perfect imperfections.

Meanwhile, her story is quite dull; as are most of ours. And this might be why this work is so heart-gripping.

With so much time being taken to recount the likes of a yellow bedroom and a scary Balinese mask, the audience have time to remember their own stories.

I don't know if it's possible to watch this show without the barrage of personal memories. Someone said to me it was so intense that he wanted his memories to stop so that he could watch the show!

I could see photos of my first birthday party that I don't remember; I remembered being terrified when I wasn't much older because a rooster (a rooster that attacked) was between me and the back door, and my mother told me to just ignore him; I remembered whispering secrets to a kindergarten friend, but I don't remember her name or the secret; I remembered breaking my milk bottle on my first day of school and being more embarrassed than I could cope with; I remembered being friends with Vanna Morrasini in grade one and telling her she was wearing the wrong shirt, but it was just the summer uniform; I remember my grandmother buying me a new doll and telling me not to take it to school in case I lost it – I took it to school and lost it;  I remembered my cousin and I wondering if we could get married; I remembered my animal wall paper; I remembered eating almonds from an almond tree in our back yard; I remembered screaming when I saw the results of putting tadpoles in my goldfish tank.

And that's what it's like for the three-ish hours of Episode 1.

And Episode 1 is just birth to 8.


So going into Episode 2, there's the attachment to this child telling her story – we know her so well by now and want her to be happy – and the simultaneous anticipation of what memories are going to come flooding back. And not all memories are welcome or expected.

Briefly, Episode 2 covers 8 to 12. It's still a musical, but it's moved into the 80s with recorded music, wonderful atrocious rock-eisteddfod choreography, and brightly coloured tracksuits. And a choir.

Episode 3 is the continued verbatim story (14 to 18), but presented as a parlour murder mystery. Complete with endlessly brown back drops with a painted fire place. And aliens.


And also throw into the mix, performers who look like people. There's body fat, pale skin, frizzy hair, untamed beards, lanky legs, glasses and all manner of beautiful normality.  My first uncontrollable tear was the first scene when a woman who could wear my size of clothes walked onto the stage and danced.  One of my last was as a big-bellied, bearded American bloke dressed like a sea captain with an eye patch sung about the 15-year-old girl's first real kiss. (Oh, those first kiss memories.)

Life and Times was ten hours of pure insane joy created by people who love life and theatre, and know that they will find like-souls all over the world. And it was spent with friends, writers and a good chunk of Melbourne's theatre makers. A day at the theatre doesn't get better than that.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.


And in honour of The Lonely Owl book from Episode 1, here's a page from my equivalent, Milo the Mouse. This is the climax, where Milo tricks the new neighbour's cat into running into a pond. Hehehe. And if my brother had drawn birds all over is (as happened in The Lonely Owl), I would have been shattered.

29 October 2013

FESTIVAL review previews

Links to reviews published on Issimo and AussieTheatre.

FESTIVAL: Room of Regret

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
Room of Regret
The Rabble, Theatre Works, Melbourne Festival
22 October 3013
Theatre Works
to 3 November
melbournefestival.com.au



No one makes theatre like The Rabble do. It's like co-creators Emma Valente and Kate Davis take the concept of theatre and re-create it into something that looks like theatre, but feels like a trip – I don't mean holiday – that simultaneously assults and calms and awakens bits of your brain that you didn't know existed.

Room of Regret is their reflection on Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Compared to their recent Story of O and even last Festival's Orlando, it's close to being a literal re-telling. But don't expect a lot of words from Dorian's tumble through perfection, hedonism and despair.

Instead, expect to be immersed into, sometimes almost drowned in, a pool of pure emotion. With no restraint, it batters and confronts, but there's love and comfort around the next corner and the only fear is that of missing out.

The audience (40; there isn't room for 41) are taken into the theatre in groups. All have their heads covered in a lace veil and are lead through a house, with plywood walls and floor covered in gold leaves, and are left sitting in different rooms. No group can see the other, or really see their own group as all sit like statues covered in dust sheets waiting for the summer return of the household. As the lighting brings an eerie autumn twilight, the other draped statues come to life.

Description can't justify this experience and no experience can be the same because of the different views. Sometimes the action is in touching distance, other times it's heard, glimpsed through a doorway or projected onto a screen.

Nothing is lost by being in a different room, but nothing is gained by staying put. If a hand is offered from the cast, take it. My favourite moment was one that no one saw: there was a top hat, a dance, a whisper and a cuddle.

Technically, what's so astonishing about such a complex piece is that it sustains its changing pace and tone throughout the space. The cast (Pier Carthew, Alex McQueen, Mary Helen Sassman, David Harrison and Emily Milledge) show no favour as they dash or slink from room to room and often choose one person to tell their story to. There's repetition that's never the same and reflection is left to the audience, often very literally with mirrors.

Valente's lighting (as glorious as her direction) establishes the changing mood and Davis's design entices with lace, beads, silky leopard print and furs that begged to be felt. But (finally) there's the ability to touch her world. Here the synthetic falseness of the gold leaves can be picked up, the distortion of lace-covered eyes controlled and the touch of flesh is welcomed, but never forced. (I've never come so close to touching and comforting an actor. The only thing that stopped me was seeing my own reflection in a mirror; I now wish I had.)

I've described The Rabble's work like a dream before and it's still as close as I can get. In dreams, illogic makes perfect sense and all that really matters is how you feel, and how you still feel when you wake up relieved or devastated to be safe in your own bed. Description and interpretation only take the felt meaning away from the dreamer.

Room of Regret might be at living nightmare or leave you floating and hoping to never wake up. Whatever, it's not work to force meaning onto because whatever you feel is what it's meant to mean.

It left me feeling elated and awake wanting to do it again.

And if you want Wilde's telling of the story, read the book.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.


27 October 2013

FESTIVAL: The Shadow King

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
The Shadow King
Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Festival
16 October 2013
Merlyn Theatre, The Coopers Malthouse
to 27 October
melbournefestival.com.au


We're here to tell you one of your Dreamtime stories and make it one of ours.

Kamahi Djordon King's Fool had me from those words.  The Shadow King is the King Lear story re-told as an Australian Indigenous story.

Even if you haven't read it or seen a production, it's a story that existed before Shakespeare's version and it's hard not to know about the King who divides his land based on his daughters professed love for him.

This version is co-created by Tom E Lewis (who also plays Lear and is best known from The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith) and Michael Kantor. With live music, five spoken languages and an understanding of the story that's so much deeper than the text, this is the first Lear that made me care and wish for a happier ending.

Maybe because its a Lear that's all about telling "our" story, rather than one that focuses on the actor playing Lear and the sacrosanct language.

With a floor of red earth – which cries to be walked on in bare feet – a rusty moving stage, and projections of outback houses (complete with dogs and kids) and the land that surrounds them, it's a world that's instantly recognisable to Australians, even if we've never been beyond our cities and beaches.

There are tweaks to the known story, but it's still about a greedy powerful man who divides and gives away his land, with its mineral riches, only to realise that it was never his. This Lear also does what the Bard wasn't terrific at: recognising the power and position of women in society. Here Gloucester is a mother (Frances Djulibing) and her a dilly bag is as significant as Lear's crown.

Performances were nervous on opening night, but it took nothing away from the heart of The Shadow King. And with many cities and festivals to tour to, it's going to develop into something unforgettable.

In his welcome us to country, Uncle Jack Charles said that this is theatre that should be seen all over the world. I can't agree more. After all it's a story that continues to be told all over the world in countless languages and forms; so, maybe our Dreamtimes aren't as different as we think they are.

Photo by Jeff Busby

This was on AussieTheatre.comaussietheatre.com.au.

24 October 2013

FESTIVAL: Teenage Riot


MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
Teenage Riot
Ontroerend Goed, Melbourne Festival
15 October 2013
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 18 October


Belgium’s Ontroerend Goed makes theatre with teenagers for adults. It’s nothing like an end-of-year school concert; this company tours the world.

In Teenage Riot, eight 17ish teens shut themselves in a large box. Hidden from curious/suspicious adult eyes, the space is theirs and they let the audience peek with a hand-held camera.

Like confessing on the internet, the camera offers an intimacy and a distance and lets the performers (and co-creators) control what’s seen.

From a hand covering the view of a bikini-clad girl to close ups of ambiguous fondled flesh, they reveal genuine teen frustration and, with pedophile and fingering jokes, a tongue-in-cheek look at what adults expect of teen angst.

They still yell at the “so awful wrong” adults, but there are times when they should be screaming because adults aren’t looking after or loving them. But this anger is swirled with friendship and a humour that’s as much about the audience as the performers.

As it continues, the need to physically see the performers in the box is overwhelming, even if they don’t seek approval or our acknowledgement of remembering what it’s like to not have the right words.


This first appeared at issimomag.com.

And here's Kerith Manderson-Galvin's wonderful response on AussieTheatre.com.

FESTIVAL: The Rite of Spring / Petrushka


MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
The Rite of Spring / Petrushka
Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre, Melbourne Festival
13 October 2013
Comedy Theatre
to 14 October


In 1912, Paris’s theatre elite loved Stravinsky’s ballet score Petrushka. In 1913, the same crowd rioted because his new work offended their sense of harmony and the choreography kneecapped classical ballet traditions.

The Rite of Spring is considered the beginning of modernism and is music that’s still impossible to forget.

As is the new version by the, perfectly named, Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre from Ireland. Presented in two parts, the choreography reflects the first Rite but puts it firmly in our urban now.

Rite’s primal earthiness begins on a snowy city street, where homeless huddle with cardboard boxes and stomp to wake the spirits and find warmth. As their aggression builds, they turn into vicious dogs that sacrifice the weak and finally find the sun and floral dresses of spring.

Petrushka is like a memory re-telling of the Rite with hints of its coming violence, but told in a clean-white world that looks for love and hope instead of rape and despair.

With a four-handed piano accompaniment, the stomping and panting on the stage are part of the score, which makes it so human that the audience are left as breathless as the dancers.

This first appeared at issimomag.com.

FESTIVAL: Brief Encounter


MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
Brief Encounter
Kneehigh Theatre, Arts Projects Australia, Melbourne Festival, John and Janet Calvert-Jones, The Brenda Shanahan Charitable Foundation
12 October 2013
Athenaeum Theatre
to 27 October
In their West End and Broadway hit, Cornwall’s Kneehigh Theatre pay enthusiastic homage to the 1945 film Brief Encounter.

In 1938, Laura and Alec meet at a train station. Both are married with children, but meet on Thursdays and develop something far more than they’ve ever experienced.

The award-winning film, based on a Noel Coward play, is considered a classic of contained naturalism or a dreary melodrama. Whatever the perspective, it’s a product of its time in look, morality and its very earnest and precise-pro-nun-ci-a-tion acting.

With an almost verbatim script, Kneehigh capture its unmistakable style, but inject a nudge and a wink of joy into its constricted morality, and play with the unearned passion of its melodrama with touches like replacing the Rachmaninoff music with Coward songs.

For all its likeness to the film, its telling is pure theatre with puppets, pull-along trains, film screens and a bright-pink velvet curtain that declares that this isn’t a show for soppy tears.

Brief Encounter’s re-imagining is enchanting and so full of unexpected delight that the love story is secondary. Watch the film for that.

This first appeared at issimomag.com.

FESTIVAL: M+M


MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
M+M
Daniel Schlusser Ensemble, Theatre Works, Melbourne Festival
11 October 2013
Theatre Works
to 16 October


One very exciting thing about creative director Josephine Ridge’s first Melbourne Festival is the number of local commissions, including M+M by the Daniel Schlusser Ensemble.

Words are inadequate to describe Schlusser’s work. “Wow!” doesn’t come near.

He takes known texts (in this case The Master and the Margarita by Russian Mikhail Bulgakov, written 1928–40), strips their words and context, and re-creates them as something utterly new, but still recognisable as the original.

I haven’t read Bulgakov, but M+M is like a trip into his mind and soul. After all, great writers know that people rarely remember their words, but they never forget how those words made them feel.

M+M is political and deeply personal, but it’s made from emotion. Without a clear narrative, it’s challenging to find a way into the work, which is set in an asylum or a prison, but the extraordinary cast offer so many stories that it’s easy to find ones that are mesmerising.

With cats, crucifixions, balloons and a crack-wax, its darkness is intense and its spectacle is confronting, but there’s hope and laughs and the feeling that this world-gone-mad isn’t that far from our own.

This first appeared on issimomag.com.

FESTIVAL: In Spite of Myself


MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
In Spite of Myself
Sans Hotel, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Festival
10 October 2013
Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
to 13 October

In Spite of Myself was developed for the Melbourne Festival in a two-month residency, at Arts Centre Melbourne, by local performance artist Nicola Gunn and her company, Sans Hotel.

With old women making Plasticine animal sculptures, a dance called ‘Carpet Burn’ and the introduction of the word ‘hopening’ to our arts language, it’s an inspired reminder that making art is serious stuff that must never be taken too seriously.

The show starts in the foyer that’s filled with the kind of art that people nod approvingly at because they don’t want to look uncultured.

But it’s ok to laugh, or just not get it, because it’s followed by a lecture about this (fictional) art made by the (fictional) artist Nicola Gunn, which is presented by Nicola Gunn, who performs as someone talking about Nicola Gunn.

It’s hard to find the dancing line between fiction and self-absorbed confession in this work that adoringly welcomes and wickedly mocks its audience of fervent festival goers.

In Spite of Myself  is originally fresh, visually gorgeous and so hilariously surprising that it’s impossible to compare Gunn to anyone else, except maybe the fictional artist Nicola Gunn


This first appeared on issimomag.com.

And don't miss Fleur Kilpatrick's gorgeous reflection on this gorgeous work at AussieTheatre.com.

20 October 2013

Review: Roam

Roam
Red Stitch Actors Theatre
13 October 2013
Red Stitch
to 9 November
redstitch.net


Adam J A Cass's Roam was developed through the Red Stitch Writers Program. Like his very successful I Love You, Bro (first seen at the 2007 Fringe), it's about remembering that no matter how anonymous we play on the internet, there's a person behind every hot game avatar, flattering wink and bitchy comment.

Johnny (Tim Potter) and Julia (Ella Caldwell) are unhappily happy in a relationship that's ok enough to keep going, but ignores the death of her father and the loss of his job.

For Johnny, comfort is the anonymity of web chat roulette and amateur porn. But his irresistible find is a 13-year-old girl (Ngaire Dawn Faire) from Estonia, whom he joins in an online game based on Ancient Rome. Here his credit card buys the points she can't afford and they fight together to rule Rome as the sexiest avatars. Then Julia logs in.

The story comes to virtually real life when the design team (Benjamin Shaw, Jason Bovaird, Clare Springett, David Nelson, Michael Watson and Daniel Nixon) bring the screen onto the stage and transform the stage to the hyper-reality of Roam's Rome. Even with a too-Tron moment, the digital design creates a world that shows non-gamers why some gamers never want to leave their screen life, where they can look how they want to and be all the people they'll never be bold enough to be in the dull reality of reality. (And this is why I stick to Candy Crush.)

Director and dramaturg Gary Abrahams worked with Cass on the script and their success is making an overwhelming and endlessly complex issue into a story about three people who are facing deaths and endings.

For all the whizz-bangery of the design, it's still the question of whether Johnny and Julia will survive that creates the story's tension and hope. However, I'd like to see more ambiguity about the 13-year-old  or a bigger story about her, especially as the script keeps glancing at consequences of adults playing online with children.

There's a level to Roam that hasn't been revealed yet and, of course, it has to keep playing to find its depth and its bigger world (and maybe a re-boot of the ending, which is satisfying but doesn't answer enough questions). But without programs like this Writers Program, new scripts like this wouldn't be able to develop in front of an audience and there's something raw and powerful about seeing a script at an early stage.

In the meantime, the cast grasp the work's heart and its story reaches into the world of anyone who plays on a screen.

This was on AussieTheatre.com

16 October 2013

FESTIVAL: The Beast

MELBOURNE FESTIVAL 2013
The Beast
Melbourne Theatre Company
7 October 2013
Southbank Theatre, The Sumner
to 9 November
mtc.com.au


It's impossible to not adore Eddie Perfect. He sings and dances like an entire 1930s Hollywood musical, he has the best hair and he lets us laugh and cringe at the best and the worst of ourselves. This man had me laughing at a rape joke in one of his shows and made me care about Shane Warne. And I like him on that telly show. As a satirist, Eddie gets middle class, pseudo hipster, moving-away-from-the-inner-city Melbourne. And he mercilessly attacks those things that make us fume or at least roll our eyes at.

If you want to see Eddie doing all of this amazing stuff, he's performing a retrospective of his best solo work (and some new stuff) at the Festival Hub on Sunday 13 October. Even better news: it's FREE! But you can't book. You're going to have to get in line. You can buy coffee and drinks and all sorts while you wait. But the doors open at 5 and I suspect that anyone not there by then will be listening outside.

But, this is a review of The Beast, not a rave about Eddie.

The Beast is Perfect's first play, which was commissioned by the MTCs Artistic Director Brett Sheehy. Who wouldn't want to commission the first Perfect play?! But I'm not sure why a first work is put on in the biggest theatre as the MTC's contribution to the Melbourne Festival.

Three mates nearly die in a boat accident and when they get back to shore, they pack up their wives and lives and head to the Valley for a life of organic bliss with a fairy-light carbon footprint and endless respect for the animals that sacrifice themselves for our plates. There's property price, wine, smoking and pedophile jokes galore and there's a brilliant calf.

Yes, it's funny and I knew it was about me and my world at the early awkward verjuice joke – I don't have verjuice in my cupboard, but I do have three different types of balsamic vinegar. There's an hilarious, sharp, gut-punch of a play that's getting lost because it's suffering from a lot of first-work issues and tries so hard to shock and offend that it loses any genuine shock value.

It's over written for the sake of repeating jokes and explaining what we know, the characters sound too similar and there's some clunky plotting that gives the end away early and doesn't feel natural in the created world. But its biggest issue is characters who are hard to care about. They are so hell-bent on being outrageous exaggerations that those moments of empathy and care are too hard to find. And this is what Perfect did so well in Shane Warne, the Musical: we cared about Warney, despite him being a bit of dick. This mob are just dicks.

And on the stage, no one can decide on a tone as it runs the gauntlet from slapstick to farce to bitter satire and sweet comic affirmation. This leaves it getting its laughs by falling from joke to joke, rather than from its bigger story and maybe some self reflection.

The Beast split passionate opinions on opening night and there will be rave reviews. But I'd let this one settle into its run and and wait until later in the season.

This was on AussieTheatre.com.

Photo by Jeff Busby.

05 October 2013

FRINGE: Confetti

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2013
Confetti
Big One Little One
4 October 2013
Fringe Hub, The Warren
to 5 October
melbournefringe.com.au


OMG, there's only one chance left to experience Confetti.

I so wish I'd done it in week one, because I could have gone back and done it again!

As you prepare for your last shows (and so many are sold out, so be prepared to take a risk on something else), make sure that you keep a few minutes free between 7 and 9 and spend them at the North Melbourne Town Hall Hub.

Head to the Warren (the super groovy downstairs bar), buy a drink from a lovely volunteer at the bar and look to your right. There you will see speechless men in suits.

Go to the men, give them some gold coins or a note. They will give you a balloon and come and get you when it's your turn to knock on the door and go into the room ... alone.

It's brilliant. Do it!

It only lasts a minute or so, but is enough fun to give you enough energy to see another couple of shows and party on to the wee hours at the Awards Party, which starts at 10.

04 October 2013

FRINGE: Dacryphilia

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2013
Dacryphilia
3 October 2013
Broken Mirror
to 6 October


Dacryphilia is arousal by the tears of others.*

Adora works in a mattress store and realises that she was meant to be there when Leo, who can't stop crying, caught a bus from the other side and walked into her shop.  It's a distorted but perfect match, until Leo can't cry any more.

Writer Amanda Miha has reworked an earlier short play to develop her first full-length work. With an ominous sense of place, an unknown other side of town where anything and anyone can be bought, her original voice is fuelled by a dark sense of humour and a fascination about what really fuels our emotions and passions. 

But there are issues in bringing the script to the stage. The stage tone supports laughing at and distancing from these lovers rather than encouraging the darkness and bringing us into their world. And for a work that's about obsession and tears and somehow finding impossible release and love, the actors don't give us those moments that make us care about the characters or their love.

Meanwhile, a mood of painful love is created by live music from Sophie Rose, which could be extended to give a score to the whole work, but the oddest mood breaker is created by a raw onion. The cut up onion gives a memorable actor-torture scene, but it leaves the theatre smelling like a raw onion and smell has a habit of overpowering all other senses.

If your trying to schedule your last weekend of mad Fringing, this one finishes on Sunday (not Saturday) and it runs about an hour, not the 75 minutes in the Fringe guide.


* And should so be the name of a critic's blog.


01 October 2013

FRINGE: Black Faggot

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2013
Black Faggot
29 September 2013
Fringe Hub, Rehearsal Room
to 5 October
melbournefringe.com.au


Black Faggot was an audience favourite and award-winner at the recent Auckland Fringe and if this is the kind of theatre that's being made in Auckland, book me a ticket for their next Fringe please.

Sadly, their story is well known. Pacific Islanders are still blacks and gay men are still faggots and together the insult is magnified, especially when it also comes from within the Islander and gay communities. But this isn't an angry work. There's pain and regret, but it's positive, heartfelt and achingly funny.

With impeccable timing and spot-on characterisations, Taofia Pelesasa and Iaheto Ah Hi perform a series of monologues and two-handers that tell stories from all around their communities.  There's a guy who hates the incessant white-girl pop in gay bars, the boy who loves God and tries to pray himself straight, a little brother who just loves his big brother, a romance that brings tears to the most hardened of hearts, and many more people who will stay in your heart long after you leave the theatre.

Black Faggot tells familiar and often-told stories, but it's wonderful to hear them told in a different voice and from a slightly different perspective. And these stories need to keep being told until the need to tell them doesn't exist.

But the success of this show lies in it ultimately being a work about love. The love of lovers, friends, brothers and brothers, family, strangers, (a government that stood up and sang when the marriage equality bill was passed in New Zealand – this isn't in the show, but we don't have a government that even knows how to sing), and now the love of everyone who sees Black Faggot.





POZIBLE campaign: The Rabble

It's no secret that I love The Rabble and the theatre they make.

They need our help to make their Melbourne Festival show.

Even if it's just a few dollars, every bit helps.