Subversive art is a fearful thing, not often attempted and almost never achieved, although every so often it takes to the stage, usually at the Malthouse Theatre.
Declan Greene’s The Homosexuals or Faggots manages to weave the audience along a journey among the six characters, mocking and criticising each until you’re completely unsure who you’re supposed to feel connected to, if anyone at all.
Warren and Kim are middle aged Über-wealthy gay men, living in their new million dollar apartment in the middle of Sydney. Warren is endearingly energetic and anxious, although I may just have been forgiving since I have watched Simon Burke since his Play School days. I’m very susceptible to Super Awkward moments, and The Homosexuals had me covering my face more than once, waiting for each crescendo to reveal itself.
The plot changes frequently, full of deceit, mostly on purpose. Character lies to character who lies to another who teams up with another to lie to the first, until everything ultimately unravels. Political correctness and the current queer economy of sensitivity and offence is mocked un-relentlessly throughout with approximately zero censorship. Race, gender, drugs, – it’s all on the table and in the firing line, but largely with purpose although it may not be revealed until the finale.
The Gaytriarchy (essentially the rise of cisgender gay white men to an almost-equal status with hetero society) is a contentious point in queer circles, and The Homosexuals creates a comedic exaggerated image of the quintessential Gaytriarch couple, trying on other people’s oppression temporarily, throwing money at inconveniences, and reclaiming slurs that don’t belong to them. All that’s missing is a tiny designer dog, but that’s probably due to the Malthouse’s OH&S rules.
Every character is a standout, but impressively so was Mama Alto’s switching seamlessly between two characters, polar opposites of each other, and the character of Dianne played by Genevieve Lemon. Dianne’s status as comedic relief character is shattered by the end of the play, in a triumphant speech that made me shed a few tears in the audience.
The Homosexuals or Faggots is an amazing night out with plenty of laughs, but so much depth of thought hiding just under the surface. Also, just in time for Mardi Gras.
Jasmin Ashton is a 20-something queer human, marketer and freelance writer/artist from Melbourne who has a lot of feelings about pretty much everything. Find them at @Jasmanna.