Gaybies @ MELT Festival Review
‘Gaybies’ is an emotionally-charged, political but funny look at the children of gay parents and their diverse upbringings.
Written by Dean Bryant and directed by Kris Stewart, the play comprises of local talent who read aloud testimonials of what actual people have written from the ages 4 to 40 about their experiences of growing up with same-sex parents. The honest accounts of these participants are reflected in the way the actors conveyed these messages to reflect their ages.When reading the experiences of small children, they spoke in a childish way and the audience ate it up. Particularly with Margi Brown Ash, who wheeled out on a trike in a pink jumpsuit and white mohawk. She endeared herself enough to the audience so much that when she forgot a line, people simply laughed.The set was minimal.
Under coloured lights, the actors who weren’t speaking sat around a table drawing and eating food that is prominent at children’s parties. Toys were strewn around and a line was hung up which the ‘gaybies’ hung their drawings on when they were not speaking to the audience. It is interesting to note that not all of the cast were actors – in fact one, Pat O’Neill is a candidate for Labor!Although they all had impressive performances three actors stuck out for their energy and crowd response. Kurt Phelan was appealing in his turn as the stereotypical teenage boy who just happened to have two dads and his ocker true blue attitude.
4ZZZ’s Blair Martin was also captivating with his performance due to his confidence and obvious acting experience. Rebecca McIntosh who wore a dazzlingly revealing dress and platform shoes matched Phelan’s energy with her forcefulness and in her scenes of relaying whatever ‘gaybie’ she was reenacting.There were two contemporary songs that transitioned scenes: Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ and Taylor Swift’s ‘I’m Only Me When I’m With You’. Both in soft versions, the first accompanied by piano and guitar, the second with guitar with Phelan and Lizzie Moore singing on both. Another scene change was signaled when each of the characters burst a party popper announcing their sexual orientation – some were straight, although they acknowledged, much to the audience’s delight, that their heterosexuality was only as far as they knew.
Gay marriage was a consistent theme throughout the play, with characters lamenting on the unfairness of their parents not being allowed to marry. This did seem a little contrived when they were reading as four-year-olds (do four-year-olds really think about marriage?). But this was forgiven when Phelan’s teenage character expressed a sadness that his two dads couldn’t get married which seemed genuine. And as the piano was suitably solemn, the audience quiet, perhaps in contemplation at the same-sex marriage laws which remains a hot button issue in the LGBTI+ community.
It was refreshing to have humour infused in the play to ensure the entire affair wasn’t a long, political rant. The director had managed to strike a good balance between getting the point across while also making the audience laugh with some matter-of-fact testimonials about some hard-headed lesbian parents who didn’t “give a fuck” about marriage and acknowledging the diversity of both children and their parents; some of who fit stereotypes and some who did not.’Gaybies’ is a thought-provoking play which although pleads for understanding about the diversity of rainbow families and the issues affecting them, manages to make the audience laugh as well.
(published 8/Feb/16 http://scenestr.com.au/arts/gaybies-melt-festival-review)