The Cottage

BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/02/2006 - 27/02/2006

NZ Fringe Festival 2006

Production Details

By Arthur Meek with Cooper Amai & Kate Fitzroy

Directed by Julie Noever

Take a gay club and all the characters associated with that scene. Take them to the extremes and set them in the toilet stalls of a scandalous local club … Hmmm how far can we push it?

Cooper Amai
Kate Fitzroy

Theatre ,

The Cottage

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 27th Feb 2006

The late night show currently playing at BATS, The Cottage by Arthur Meek, is made up of a myriad of characters, almost too many in fact who are all far less defined by the duo of actors Cooper Amai and Kate Fitzroy. 

However it is probably the most original production so far in this year’s Fringe Festival, and although it has a clear message – the meaning of being gay – it is very funny and very entertaining.  Performed at a fast and furious pace by Amai and Fitzroy, who must be the most energised and animated actors around, the piece is both camp and bitchy, and very believable, as it portrays a cross section of characters that make up Wellingtons gay culture. 

There’s the lesbian Parking Warden Gayleen, the bar boy Baz who has both a boyfriend and a husband, the pregnant bar owner Beth and her Pacific Island lover Rose who is also the bouncer, Sereena the drag queen, gay Brendon and his girlfriend Sharee who hits on Gayleen plus a host of others meeting up and getting off with each other. 

From one extreme to the other these characters strut their stuff, with the aid of two toilet bowls on wheels and some fabulous lighting, debunking the myths and stereotypes of gay culture showing that anyone can be gay and be out and proud of it. 

And although the interaction of these characters and story lines becomes confusing at times they don’t detract from the overall impact of the piece and the drag act of the finale from Amai and Fitzroy is a brilliant piece of camp send-up.


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Infectious energy in gay play

Review by John Smythe 26th Feb 2006

A pink screen, a blue screen, two lidded toilet bowls on wheels, cool lighting and music-rich sound, 11 characters played by two actors – Cooper Amai and Kate Fitzroy – and the directing of Julie Noever, conspire to bring the gay world of The Cottage to Bats.

‘Cottaging’ is a European term for scoring someone in the loo, a practice which reflects the historic illegality of gay sex and the promiscuity of its practice by some of the queer fraternity (correct me if I’m wrong but I think promiscuity is mostly a gay male thing). As I understand it, more conducive environments for casual encounters are generally available in gay clubs these days and such a club is a key setting for this multi-location play.

The wheelie-loos then, which arrive to an orgasmic crescendo then laugh like kookaburras, are employed more often as cars than loos. Gayleen is a parking warden whose booking of Serena, who turns out to be a drag queen, leads her to the club. "Thank you for letting me come out with you," is her final line, gleefully ‘got’ by the enthusiastic opening night audience.

The scenes between, while they do form a coherent narrative, don’t exactly strive through quest for catharsis. The scenes are more an excuse to capture some archetypes of queer culture and bring them to life on stage, "from the dizziest Twinkie to the meanest Dyke … and the entire spectrum in between," as their publicity puts it. For example, bar-worker Baz’s anticipated assignation with a high profile All Black is more about pointing up the possibility than generating a dramatic climax (although he does come for a clandestine encounter parked up a dark alley).

Two sock-puppet greeblies, called Hiv and Wethead, come out from behind the toilet bowls to add an entertaining theatre-in-education dimension to proceedings, especially after a Swedish backpacker lures Baz into a cubicle for the one shadow-played sex scene.

Rhythmically the climax comes with a drag competition and a pregnant lesbian called Beth going into labour, which allows for a jab of 111-call satire.

I wasn’t always able to discern the character changes but the text does a good job of inserting names at strategic places. Amai and Fitzroy bring a knowing confidence to their work, connecting well with their equally knowing audience, and keep up the pace to give The Cottage an infectious energy.


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