It is quite normal, and indeed, completely understandable, to be offended by a term or reference. And it is quite a brave move to dedicate a performance to not only analyse this concept, but to embrace every possible way to offend in an avalanche of disasters and comedy of errors that even Basil Fawlty would sit back and admire.
A performance you find hilarious, not because of the homophobic, racist, sexist, bigoted, or plain tasteless jokes, but the timing of each joke that adds to the ongoing catastrophe of an anything-but-typical Sydney Mardi Gras evening. To make you wonder in sheer bewilderment of what you just bore witness to, and equally why you just spent 80 minutes laughing not only at yourself, but at the expense of those you love.
If only The Homosexuals went further to achieve this. If only they completely ripped apart the definition of a ‘faggot’ so much as to make you want to order it from the menu. If only the creators didn’t feel the need for dramatic and moralistic reflections that destroyed the pace of the nonsensical farce being played out before our eyes. If only closer attention was paid to the art of timing in slapstick. If only there was a reference to a bundle of sticks.
The casting wasn’t at fault. They did a stellar job at what they were given. Simon Burke (Warren) and Simon Corfield (Kim) together captured the essence of many struggling relationships behind the overwhelming influences of expectation, privilege, and longing for youth. As the story’s central dysfunctional and self-righteous gay couple, the promise was there for a much promised and anticipated farce yet their onstage chemistry could only go so far.
Mama Alto played Bae Bae, a larger-than-life identity who was expected to be a ferocious and overtly formidable character, but was lost amongst the more dominant personalities. This certainly wasn’t due to lack of talent, as her doppelganger Pam, was perhaps one of Alto’s best work yet, but Bae Bae simply could have been replaced with a referenced photo on a wall.
Lincoln Younes, an accomplished screen actor, making his stage debut as Lucacz, the straight man of the comedic romp (pun intended). Younes wasn’t just a pretty face and muscled body (although he was that too), but contributed as being perhaps the most important troupe in a farce: the unwilling victim.
I will argue though that Genevieve Lemon’s performance as Diana was perhaps the strongest, if you ignore the poorly executed glue joke, and despite the abrupt dramatic turning point that quashed any possibility of this show becoming a true farce.
I kept on expecting Diana’s scheduled attendance to a ‘bad taste party’ to result in the party coming to the apartment as a compromise/misunderstanding. Now that outcome would have been a farce, and perhaps a more fitting outcome to the story. Or perhaps any outcome would have been better than that disruptive period of awkward silence. Perhaps no outcome was needed at all.
The Homosexuals, or Faggots was certainly a bold turn by Declan Greene (Playwright) and Lee Lewis (Director), and yes I unashamedly laughed at points when the timing just clicked. Instead of going too far, this show simply did not go far enough. Although the narrative started in the right place, it became less formidable than foreseeable as the story progressed.
Taking the jokes as reflections of the darker side of humanity, this production will make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps take offence, due to its inconsistent pace. Directionless jokes and sight gags lessened what could have been a clever mechanism into exploring stereotypes and labels.
The Homosexuals, or Faggots
Merlyn Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Performance: Wednesday 22 February 2017 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 12 March 2017
Information and Bookings: www.malthousetheatre.com.au
The SBW Stables Theatre, 10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross (Sydney)
Season: 17 March – 29 April 2017
Information and Bookings: www.griffintheatre.com.au
Image: Simon Corfield, Simon Burke, Mama Alto and Genevieve Lemon in The Homosexuals, or Faggots (supplied)
Review: Jimmy Twin