Player One: Sport. He represents a distinctly strong masculinity. He stands decisively wearing preppy and mainstream tennis clothes – although his shorts are quite short and bordering on camp. Player Two: Queen. He presents himself to the world in drag queen style. Ostentatious, over the top, glamorous and decidedly feminine. As these two representations of homosexual masculinity spar with each other in the dazzlingly bright tennis court of The Blue Room Theatre, they are awarded points – tennis style, by the referee.
Ash Traylia and David Mitchell are simply wonderful in their high-energy performances of masculinity. Adjudicated by the movement master herself, Morgan Owen, they hit and spit at each other until realising that all aspects of performing masculinity can be toxic but can also be celebrated. Court My Crotch is created by the company that brought you Arteries by Ancestry and many of their signatures are present – switching characters back and forth and re-telling moments from the past, a sense of fluid sexuality, and of course power plays.
Although aware that the stories recounted here are based on actual testimony from Australian interviews, it borders on the cliche. Secret snatches of drag shows in Sydney, checking other kids out in sporting change rooms, hovering around a bar just to get another glimpse of a gay man you’re strangely attracted to. All seem a little trite, but are delivered with such passion that cliche can be overlooked. Ash Traylia puts the extra in extraordinary as he sashays about the stage, full of vim and vigor. He is dressed to the nines in full drag regalia but isn’t afraid to be stripped bare when vulnerable. Mitchell is equally as fabulous but reigns in his flamboyancy to a dull roar. It’s there in his mannerisms and speech, but perfectly controlled.
All of this speaks to how controlled and contrived being oneself really is. Not only is drag a performance but so is masculinity. The charade can wear you down and we witness the emotional toll it takes on both characters. Owen is sinuous and firm in her movements as the umpire. She represents life and rules and the cultural norm. She is both controlling and firm, and malleable and fluid. Her eyes bulge out of her head as she blows the whistle on any transgressions performed by the leads. There are some confronting moments – at one point Ash Traylia turns on the audience to deliver some harsh truths, Mitchell cowers in the corner after opening up to another man in a sexual encounter. Songs and movement are interwoven with brash and ballsy acting and bravado.
Court My Crotch is an intelligent and heartfelt work that has clearly come from a place of intimacy. Not only will it tug on the heartstrings, it will make you laugh. Full of quips, put downs and comebacks, it unapologetically challenges mainstream masculinity but always punches up. There are also some delightfully camp references to life in the early 2000s and the Sydney Olympics, so obvs I’m all over that like a rash! Re-live your youth but see it from a different perspective, because odds are that while you were perfecting your ‘Genie in a Bottle’ dance, a budding drag queen was too.
Review | Laura Money
WHEN: 18 September – 6 October | 7pm
WHERE: The Blue Room Theatre | PERTH
INFO: Tickets $20 – $30 | Duration 75 minutes | Suitable 15+ | Some strobe lighting