It would be remiss to review Bacon without giving a trigger warning: it explores toxic masculinity culminating in same-sex rape.
Bacon is the story of two British schoolboys: Mark (Sebastiano Pitruzzello) and Darren (Ryan Stewart). Mark is just your typical closeted kid, and Darren is your standard larrikin lad. However, there’s nothing typical or standard about their relationship.
It’s hard not to notice the physical similarities between Pitruzzello and Joe Locke of Heartstopper fame, leading you to think you’re in for a similarly cutesy romance. But Bacon is not that kind of story.
Bacon is a love story gone wrong. Sophie Swithinbank’s insightful script understands the complexities of same-sex rape. From a moral viewpoint, it’s black and white – rape is wrong. From an emotional viewpoint, especially when it’s someone you love, all you have are shades of grey.
I’m evaluating this from personal experience growing up as a sex object for two men, both relatives. One was only 10 years older than me, and not yet an adult himself. In fact, he was the same age as Mark and Darren in Bacon.
What he did to me was without a doubt wrong, but both in physical appearance and attitude, he’s become the exact type I pursue. Emotion clouds rationality and Swithinbank captures that about this topic in a way I’ve never seen done on stage in 29 years of reviewing.
Mark doesn’t get what he wants, or at least not in the way he wants. Pitruzzello does an outstanding job as a hopeful schoolboy who becomes a victim. But in playing the villain of the piece, Stewart has the more challenging role as it requires a vulnerability to risk bearing the weight of the audience’s condemnation.
Bearing the trigger warning in mind and the content, this play is a love story gone dark. And it’s done so powerfully compellingly that it will leave you contemplating its complexities.
Meat Market Stables, 2 Wreckyn Street, North Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 10 September 2023
Season continues to 21 October 2023
Information and Bookings: www.melbournefringe.com.au
Image: Sebastiano Pitruzzello and Ryan Stewart in BACON – photo by Alex Winner
Review: Daniel G. Taylor