Posts Tagged ‘Tommy Murphy’

It’s nearly eight years since Australian playwright Tommy Murphy’s UK debut with Holding the Man, also at the Trafalgar Studios, in the bigger space (https://garethjames.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/holding-the-man). This one is a welcome transfer from the ever enterprising Kings Head Theatre.

The play tells the story of runaway teenager Shane, from small-town life and bullying brother Ben to Sydney. He’s nervous, naive and vulnerable but manages to get a job and somewhere to live and begins to explore his sexuality. He’s befriended by two older men, one of whom gives him an STD and the other food and fatherly love. When Ben comes to find him, we learn that he is as much victim as bully, feeling responsible for how Shane has turned out.

The piece has more depth than you might expect in 90 minutes playing time. The first part is very funny but it becomes darker and ends charmingly. The writing is great, but so are the three terrific performances. Genuine Aussies Stephen Connery-Brown and Dan Hunter play the older men Peter and Will, with the latter doubling up as brother Ben, but it’s the hugely impressive live wire performance by Roly Botha, who made his professional debut with the Kings Head run of the play in 2016, that blew me away. Adam Spreadbury-Maher directs with great sensitivity to the material.

One to catch in this short run.

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This is a stage adaptation of an autobiographical book, published posthumously, by an Australian man who died of AIDS. Seeing it now, 15 years after the final events it portrays adds a historical perspective to a very personal story.

It’s a a love story which has two very different halves – the first a very funny and rather charming tale of a 15-year relationship from teens to late 20’s and the second the very sad and deeply moving story of the final years until one died of AIDS eight years later.

You can tell that Matt Zeremes as Tim and Guy Edmonds as John have played these roles on-and-off for four years because they seem to inhabit their characters and have real chemistry between them. Four other actors (Kath & Kim’s Jane Turner, musicals man Simon Burke, Oliver Farnsworth and Anna Skellern) play all of the other roles – up to 15 each – with huge versatility and brio. Jane Turner, in particular, can change characters of different sex and age with just a quick wig change! David Berthold’s fast paced staging allows them to cover much ground whilst still developing the characters and without trivialising the story.

Though I haven’t read Timothy Conigrave’s book, he was clearly very frank and seems to have been rather hard on himself. Tommy Murphy’s play tells a very moving, sad and timeless love story with much humour and little sentimentality and still manages to look back to this extraordinary period in social history objectively.

You’ll laugh out loud at the outrageous and often rude frankness, but you’ll probably shed a tear in the end. I found it a very rewarding evening in the theatre.

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