10/03/2009 - 13/03/2009
25/02/2009 - 28/02/2009
Post Gay by Patrick Graham plays Bats Theatre during the Wellington Fringe Festival.
The controversial and self-proclaimed "Ed Wood of theatre", caused a stir in the Auckland theatre community earlier this year with his controversial play, White Trash Omnibus, with many Wellingtonians encouraging the playwright to tour the work in question so that they could see "what all the fuss was about".
Well, the Wellington theatre-goers aren’t getting "Trashed" yet, but they will be treated to the first performance of the new work from Patrick Graham, Post Gay.
A comedy that could be described as a "sex comedy", or even – one step further – as a "gay sex comedy", Post Gay is a multimedia production that tells the story of a "not-stereotypical" gay man searching for love over the internet.
After years of being single, Matthew is encouraged by his "sunny disposition" flatmate to take the plunge with internet dating. The audience is taken on Matthew’s journey with him through the use of screen projections displaying his online interactions with the bizarre characters he comes across in his search, and witnessing the resulting "physical" meetings with these characters.
After three dating disasters, including a mysterious event manager who "forgets" his own name and occupation frequently, and a "Muscle Mary" who tells Matthew he is good enough to give a blow job but that’s about it, Matthew turns to traditional meeting places; clubs and, er… phone dating services.
These results are even more hilarious leading our poor Matthew to absolute despair. Will he find love out there in the real world? Will he go back into cyberspace for another shot?
Post Gay will be on at Bats as part of the Wellington Fringe Festival 2009 from 25th – 28th February.
Don’t miss out on the next play from the playwright who one critic described as the "Tennessee Williams of New Zealand theatre".
lighting design by Shane Forge
graphic design by Kai Crow
assistant director Ashlee Ackland
produced by Kate Rylatt
Good subject matter not well handled
Review by Candice Lewis 11th Mar 2009
There is definitely a place for theatre focusing on a wide range of sexuality; unfortunately Post Gay isn’t quite pulling it off. On the plus side, it opens up discussion about stereotypes, expectations and finding love.
The story centres on miserable Matthew (Todd Morgan) and his no-life flatmate Cecilia (Natasha Ross). Matthew is a depressed and average singer in a band called ‘The Wankers’, and would like to fall in love with a fun guy who is more than a big dick.
Cecilia is supposed to be a sweet down to earth Kiwi chick, maybe in the mould of Outrageous Fortune. She seems to be miscast, and I find the phone conversations with her dope-loving boyfriend increasingly irritating.
I do laugh a couple of times, and some of the comments on finding love in the cyber world are valid and apply to people of all genders and sexual persuasions.
Charmless man Matthew wants a relationship, but is insipid when meeting what are obviously only going to be casual sexual ‘hook ups’. He shows a smattering of spine when the Super Fit American repeatedly humiliates him, and then takes a turn at verbally abusing someone he doesn’t want to screw. It’s appropriate that he gets to wear a t-shirt with ‘Bitch’ on it … if he’s not being one he’s being someone’s.
The problem is, Matthew doesn’t seem to like himself very much, and even when he is cruel to Cecilia he doesn’t feel the need to apologise. He just sings her a song about c-nts. The song is quite funny, but as a way to communicate with her it falls short and demonstrates what a doormat she is. Morgan portrays Matthew convincingly.
The sexy Rudi Vodanovich does what he can with a couple of comical characters that ‘hook up’ with Matthew. His portrayal of ‘Alex’, a sex junkie with a cocaine monkey on his back, is enjoyable.
The flier with a note from the director claims that Post Gay plays on heterosexual expectations of what gay men should be like sexually.
Instead, it seems to be more about gay men’s expectations of each other, and how difficult it can be to find a genuine relationship in a world where finding sex is as easy as logging on.
The only nod to what might pass for a ‘heterosexual expectation of gay sexuality’ is with a few unbelievable conversations between Matthew and Cecilia. Cecilia appears to be a somewhat naïve Auckland woman over 30, flatting with a gay man, going out with a dope head and attending art school. Yet she’s never heard of rimming or amyl nitrate? That would be nothing short of a miracle.
The director, Patrick Graham, comments that some may say he hates men. I didn’t think that at all, but I look forward to seeing him direct something with well crafted, sympathetic characters.
As my friend said, ‘it’s great that something with this subject matter it being made. It’s a pity it wasn’t very good.’
Copyright © belongs to the reviewer
Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 02nd Mar 2009
Post Gay is a shallow, flaccid comedy about Matthew (Todd Morgan) who is egged on by his flatmate Cecilia (Natasha Ross) to try internet dating in the hope of ending the drought that is his sex life. Though why Matthew should take any notice of Cecilia is hard to fathom as she has no success with the creep of a man in her life.
He goes to a gay website and contacts a number of predictably ghastly men, all of whom are performed energetically by Rudi Vodanovich. He also tries newspaper ads and phone contacts. The supposed gimmick of the play is that we can read the on-line conversations projected onto a crumpled sheet but I’m not sure why because we can hear, unfortunately, what is said.
The hoped-for Adonis arrives and after some tedious banter comically mimed attempts at sexual activity take place, only to be repeated on screen in brief, blurry, censored and completely gratuitous snippets presumably from genuine XXX videos.
The play starts and finishes with Matthew singing a song he has written -he’s a member of a group called The Wankers – and it is clear that his musical ability is as limited as his ability to find the right man.
P.S. I know life cannot now be lived without cell phones, but playwrights, nevertheless, should still use them sparingly.
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Lack-lustre characters in mundane plot
Review by John Smythe 26th Feb 2009
Given the avalanche of comments that followed Sian Robertson’s review of Patrick Graham’s White Trash Omnibus in Auckland, I’ll have to brace myself for a good whipping on this one.
When a writer/director prides himself on being "the controversial and self-proclaimed ‘Ed Wood of theatre’," it hardly seems worth enumerating the shortcomings of Post Gay, Graham’s latest offering. Except given the Wikipedia entry on Wood (see footnote), I do have to say that "idiosyncratic dialogue, eccentric casts and outlandish plot elements" and some semblance of a "flair for showmanship" would have been most welcome.
Instead we get an unimaginatively-staged lack-lustre play about Matthew, an unimaginative lack-lustre man trying to find … what exactly? Love? A soul-mate? A long-term sexual partner? He’s sick of being single and wants something more with someone who is "fun to be with" which is something he claims to be, although the play offers no evidence of this.
His flatmate Cecilia, who encourages him to try internet dating, is in a hopeless relationship with a stoner called Glen and seems to think her future happiness lies in getting him to stop spending money on dope so he can spend it on her instead.
Neither Matthew nor Cecilia seems to have a life, let alone any aspirations, outside these sad limitations so there is no evidence they have anything to offer a prospective partner. They are, however, reasonably comfortable in each other’s company, as credibly played by Todd Morgan and Natasha Ross.
Matthew does venture forth into a series of encounters with men, which allows Rudi Vodanovich to alleviate the boredom somewhat with a series of well-drawn characters. He also does an excellent phone voice-over as Glen.
Cecilia’s "tell me – no don’t" inquisitiveness about gay sex practices seems rather quaint and contrived and I suspect this is Graham’s attempt to second-guess the ‘straight’ community’s attitudes. Matthew also has some clunky lines about being gay. When he concludes, "Maybe I just don’t know how to be gay," he seems to imply there is a stereotype to conform to, which is neither true in life nor in terms of what has occurred in the play.
Indeed his negative judgement on those he has encountered reflects poorly on him, given his clear desire to take without giving anything in return. What is he expecting, a Fairy Godmother to wave the magic wand of happiness for him? If so, where is the play’s awareness of this, where is his come-uppance, where is his breakthrough moment?
I assume the title refers to Matthew’s state at the end of the play but nothing resonates from his situation into a wider context.
The failure of Post Gay to be the "sexual comedy of farcical proportions" its publicity proclaims is firmly rooted in the shallowness of its characters and – despite the best endeavours of the clearly talented actors (Vodanovich especially) – its plodding progress through a mundane plot with no hint of a twist or three, or pay-offs to well-laid set-ups, let alone laughter-provoking insights on the way.
One almost interesting element is the screening, during sexual encounters, of the chat-room exchanges that will follow a few days later. But as a stylistic device it sits awkwardly within the linear structure of the overall story.
We also see explicit screen images of gay sites displaying erect penises (unlikely to shock audiences who know what they’re coming to) and action shots of gay sex – thrown in as a general representation of what Matthew is up to with the latest partner (different partners; same images) – which are pixilated at the points of penetration.
Given the loyal and interested opening night audience at BATS, there is clearly an appetite out there for gay-themed plays. Post Gay is unlikely to satisfy that hunger.
Edward Davis Wood, Jr. (10 October 1924 – 10 December 1978) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, actor, author and editor, who often performed many of these functions simultaneously. In the 1950s Wood made a run of cheap and poorly produced genre films, now humorously celebrated for their technical errors, unsophisticated special effects, idiosyncratic dialogue, eccentric casts and outlandish plot elements, although his flair for showmanship gave his projects at least a modicum of critical success. – Wikipedia
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