'Another Gay Cliché' It was my second visit to a Pink Shorts season at The Midsumma Festival this year and I walked out, only mildly stirred in comparison to last year
'Another Gay Cliché' It was my second visit to a Pink Shorts season at The Midsumma Festival this year and I walked out, only mildly stirred in comparison to last year. I expected more plays, more entertainment, better quality acting and dialogue and most of all" a broader spectrum of portraits from the queer community. Instead, I was confronted with the usual stereotypes, spouting the usual gay cliches – the same gags and scenarios repeated time and again in other productions. Still, there were some genuinely amusing moments, raucous exchanges and strong performances along the way. Urban Homo tells the story of a young gay man (Jude Hansen) who parties way too hard during the festive season, snorting drugs, binge drinking and screwing taxi drivers to pay cab fares as he cruises the city, trying to fulfill Christmas obligations while confronting militant dykes and boozed up backpackers with 'what can only be described as enormous udders.' The play ends with the character vomitting into his Christmas stocking after another Christmas Day pig out. The second play, Waste Not, Want Not by Liza Dezfouli was poorly written and disjointed in its presentation. A lesbian couple (Peppa Sindar and Carolyn Masson) try to conceive a child via artificial insemination, courtesy of a pizza delivery driver. Things go astray when their usual delivery guy takes time off and a strange black man arrives at the door (Kindar Soares). The dialogue is clunky, the story is labored and it seems as though the director has deliberately asked the male lead to parade butt naked around the stage in a gratuitous scene to score points with the audience. Proceed With Caution had some genuinely hilarious moments. A young gay man, Luke (Simon Eales) hooks up with self proclaimed gay men's mentor, Bernadette (Claire Cody). There are some great exchanges and endearing moments as Bernadette gives the shy, reserved Luke a make over and teaches him the tricks of the trade in how to become the most stereotypical gay man possible. This includes wearing the most hideously bright, tight, tacky clothing, coming on to men at the usual pick up joints and camping it up with peers. Thankfully, Luke turns around and rejects Bernadette's tasteless advice, just as she's about to explain the delights of anal sex. Despite the usual clichés, Cody is often hilarious, over the top and outrageous, snuggling up to stuffed toys, shaking her booty and sharing her fag hag wisdom. Some of the performances in Beat Girl by Jodene Peters were particularly second rate, although the play was saved by the hysterical antics of the lesbian lead, Andi (Brihony Dawson). After listening to the lascivious claims of her gay pal, Reece (Marcus King) she attempts to find anonymous sex at a local beat. I found the dialogue and the relationship between Andi and Reece particularly cliché but Dawson does a fantastic job to make up for the script with pick up moves that have her victims cringing and the audience cracking up laughing. I didn't see the point of All About You by Kathryn Goldie, unless it was supposed to be 'something a little different' to wrap up the show. A father and his gay son (Bruce Carboon and Jude Hansen) are supposedly tangled in power lines in the son's kit air plane. The staging of the play is certainly original but it passes virtually unnoticed as the pair engage in a banal discussion about the son's sexuality without much else to speak of" hardly a climax the producers would've wanted. Pink Shorts is a fantastic concept for Midsumma and a great opportunity for the queer community to produce short plays that represent our culture. Unfortunately, the producers seem to have a limited vision of what constitutes queer entertainment at this time. Surely there's scope for more productions which challenge the typical gay stereotypes presented here. I'm sure the audience would appreciate a broader spectrum of material which represents the diversity within the queer community. At the moment, it seems the producers of Pink Shorts would prefer to perpetuate only the stereotype of mainstream gay experience. Pink Shorts (Midsumma Festival) Kaleide Theatre, RMIT, City Campus. Season Closed

James May

Monday 9 February, 2009

About the author

James May is a freelance writer of theatre, short fiction and journalism. He's had a number of short works produced and material published in magazines and anthologies.