Review

REVIEW: Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes

By Laura Money

There are certain things in life I never thought I’d see: a naked woman wearing a strap-on beating a naked man while being covered in semen and blood like substances poured by a naked woman in a locust mask is definitely a scenario I couldn’t have dreamed up. But the wonderful minds of Renegade Productions are used to thinking outside the box – in fact, they explode out of the box in a swarm of brilliance that deserves to be admired. The Blue Room Theatre is one of those transformative spaces that adopts the mood and style of whatever production is thrown at it, and Unveiling: Gay Sex For Endtimes slams itself into the Blue Room in a bloody and soaking mess.

It’s a stunning example of creative collaboration and what can happen when performers and devisers have a strong theme and message. Clear plastic sheeting protects the walls but not the floor as the audience files past a raised platform and the aforementioned locus-headed nude woman (Michelle Aitken) – projected in large oppressive writing onto the wall above and surrounding the stage is a quote from the Book of Revelation. It speaks of the grapes of wrath and end of days. What follows are several repetitive frames that loosely follow the story of a young man concerned about AIDS, a young woman mirroring Dorothy’s journey in The Wizard of Oz, and homosexuals coming to terms with their sexual desires and fantasies.

A conversation about blood test results and how ‘it might not mean anything’ – clearly a reference to having either an STD or the worst case scenario and biggest fear for homosexual men in particular – AIDS, is a refrain performed at regular intervals throughout the performance. It starts out conversationally – Andrew Sutherland and Jacinta Larcombe discuss the issue as if talking over coffee, however their bodies are telling a different story – Larcombe straddles a Monty Python-esque rocking horse and casually sips from a hen’s night wine glass while Sutherland kneels at a bucket of water. Larcombe proceeds to demonstrate her power over Sutherland by spilling her wine over his head and body. It’s all about power. The conversation returns throughout – spoken by different characters in different positions, finally being hysterically shouted as if in a stream of conciousness by the locust figure – almost mocking the serious nature of these very real concerns. Safety concerns among the homosexual community is also a theme revisited throughout. The same dialogue of being lured into an unsafe place for sex by, quite possibly a murdering maniac, is repeated by different characters as the play progresses.

Sexual awakening, and coming to terms with one’s homosexuality is another theme that runs alongside the end of days idea. Sutherland begins the piece covered in marker penned ‘all seeing eyes’ and as he begins to wash them off becomes aroused. He is met by Larcombe bursting into his alone time and the above scenario plays out – all the time being screamed at via an old-school WWE smackdown-style microphone: YOU ARE AN ABOMINATION! Later, Larcombe wears an innocent white tshirt and kneels before her bed. As she starts to ‘get into her groove’ so to speak, she is crudely and loudly interrupted – once again called an abomination. It all plays out like an extreme version of a sexual education and morals class – with the moraliser being the end of days locust.

Director and deviser, Joe Hooligan Lui is ridiculed in a perfect moment of self aware mockery. Aitkin dons Lui’s trademark cowboy hat and boots and parades around in them, dancing provocatively. A whimsical moment involving Sutherland dressed as a lamb marrying Larcombe is interrupted by Larcombe and Aitken laying on the bed together and making out. This provokes a hilarious and intelligent rant by Sutherland who highlights that Lui is not as groundbreaking as he may seem by presenting homosexuality as a hot steamy kiss between two hot women. This is where the genius shines through – it’s a clever critique of how mainstream theatre makers make it easy for audiences to swallow homosexuality without offending too many people. Something Unveiling apologetically refuses to do – unless it’s making an ironic point.

Unveiling is hilarious. It’s full of puns and references to camp theatre. In a brilliant sequence about the US Navy searching for a way to defeat the many ‘friends of Dorothy’ that have infiltrated their institution, Aitken, Larcombe and especially Sutherland don navy uniforms and ham it up in a hilarious parody of American stupidity. The puns are almost too much – the actors are visibly laughing, especially when shouting ‘I’m coming in behind!’

In my mind however, it is the Judy Garland thread that exhibits the most intelligent analogy of being ‘deviant’ and defiant in life. Garland was a fragile person, who was not always in control of her life. She was pulled from pillar to post but one thing she always had was her voice and her passion for singing and her wonderfully loyal fans. Aitken wears a huge pair of sparkly red shoes and is summarily ‘squished’ under the stage by Larcombe wearing a Dorothy outfit. The Wizard of Oz theme crops up several times, and as a story about soaring away from the doldrums and expectations of a world which id drab and grey, it is perfectly apt for the message being communicated.

Props for singing the little known beginning of the Arlen tune Over The Rainbow, made famous by the wonderful Judy Garland. She was an icon for equality and the gay community and Unveiling culminates in a deeply emotional rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic by Sutherland wearing the Dorothy costume. The indefatigable Garland performed this song on her television show after her close friend and defender of human rights John F Kennedy was assassinated. She was told not to perform the song but did anyway, in protest and if you watch it, you can see the sheer emotion unleashed in her iconic and powerful voice. Considering the emotional toll of a show like this – it is a rather fitting end.

WHEN: 7 – 25 November 2017 | 8:30pm

WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | Northbridge

INFO: Tickets $18 – $28 | Duration 60 minutes | Recommended 18+ | Contains nudity, eggs and strobe lighting

LINK: http://blueroom.org.au/events/unveiling/

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s