In the early 1950’s ‘Temperamental’ was code for ‘homosexual’ – part of a secret language gay men used to communicate in the age of McCarthyism, where anti-communist, anti-gay witch hunts purged homosexuals from government jobs in the name of ‘national security’.
Jon Maran’s 2010 award-winning play, The Temperamentals explores this era in a revealing contribution to living queer history – telling the story of two men, the communist Harry Hay and the Viennese refugee and fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, as they fall in love while building the Mattachine Society – the first gay rights organization in the pre-Stonewall United States.
There is so much to enjoy in this part political drama, part love story, as we are immediately transported to an era that was not entirely kind to minorities with the presentation of the educational film, Boys Beware by Sid Davis.
Director Chris Baldock delivers a highly polished production that is full of style and substance, balanced with an underlying sense of humour that punctuates the historical and at times political nature of the script.
While Maran’s script can sometimes be wordy, this production’s strength lies in the solid performances delivered by this cast. Angelo De Cata, last seen in the critically acclaimed Kiss of the Spiderwoman excels as the idiolic Harry Hay with metered strength and emotional candour. Tim Constantine brings style charm and an old world charm of a bygone era as fashion designer and Hay’s lover, Rudi Gernreich.
Our protagonists are ably supported by Sebastian Bertoli, Angus Cameron and Jai Luke as Mattachine Members, Dale Jennings, Chuck Rowland and Bob Hull respectively and other supernumerary characters.
The Mattachine Society, as named by Hay, was inspired by the Medieval French secret societies of masked men who, through their anonymity, were empowered to criticise ruling class, hasn’t been lost within Maran’s script and Baldock’s direction, and provides some of the lighter and subversive moments that counterpoints the more poignant moments of the play.
Once again, Mockingbird Theatre have proven they are a force to be reckon with within Melbourne’s independent theatrical scene, providing audiences with thought provoking and for some, confronting narratives. They have certainly set the bar high with The Temperamentals, making for a great and exciting year of theatre.
Director & Designer: Chris Baldock Cast: Angelo De Cata, Tim Constantine, Angus Cameron, Jai Luke, Sebastian Bertoli Lighting Designer: Jason Bovaird Sound Designers: Chris Baldock & Sebastian Bertoli Production Manager: Emma Walmsley
Brunswick Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre Cnr Glenlyon and Sydney Roads, Brunswick
Performance: 17 January 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 1 February 2014
For more information, visit: www.mockingbirdtheatre.com.au for details.
Image: by Chris Baldock
Review: Rohan Shearn