GAYFACE Four stars
theSpace on North Bridge Venue 36 16.05
August 3rd to 25th (not 12, 19 )
This is an immensely enjoyable play principally about body image and various unconsidered assumptions.
Hal (played by Chet Wilson, who is also the writer,) begins downstage making his big speech. This is a passionate declaration of love. We learn that Hal has been auditioning for a part in a play. Hal is a very big man, and fears that his size may reduce his chances in a romantic role. This is not necessarily so. The guy playing his male lover is straight, thus gayface – straight man playing gay. We have all seen so very much of that.
Hal thinks the play’s director will not have gays on her stage so pretends to be very butch and straight. I am sure you can see that there is plenty of scope for comedy of situation and character here, and this potential is reveled in by the script. Is the straight guy altogether straight? What about the gay playwright?
Chet Wilson gives a commanding performance as Hal, moving between gay flatmate of Ellen (Amity Hanson, – who also plays brusque director Carmen,) and butch-toned pretend straight on stage. Jason, the other male lead, the straight one, shows us his idea of a gay character, whilst slim gay writer Robert (London Bauman) appeals to Hal’s eye – though can Hal’s head stop swiveling between Jason and Robert.
There are witty near revelations, various misunderstandings, a production close to wrecked and discussion of size and attitudes to bodies that do not fit stereotypes. All this to ripples and hoots of laughter moving around a venue that is surely too small for such a delightful show.
Go see this, enjoy, lose an inhibition or two, maybe, and cherish your own body.