The set for Become the One – a smallish area of some would-be furniture placed on a rug in the middle of the large Gasworks space – resembles an island rather than a living room.
Indeed, isolation is one of the stronger threads running through the play: Tom (Chris Asimos) is a successful AFL player who is gay, but not out. Noah (Henry Strand) is out, but feels inadequate and resents having esteem issues. When they begin a relationship, it has to be in secret as Tom doesn’t want to risk his career being affected in a less-than tolerant Australia, so the only place they can actually be together is behind closed doors… on this island.
Much like there never have being an openly gay All Black, there never has been an openly gay AFL footballer is a conversation increasingly being had. Yet, playwright, Adam Fawcett, makes the focus of his text less about the politics (though they are absolutely and necessarily present) and more about how Tom’s choice becomes a burden for himself and on his relationship with Noah.
Asimos and Strand work well together, charting a lovely trajectory from strangers to lovers, to that familiar physicality that develops when you live with someone for a while. Unfortunately, the earnestness of Fawcett’s script doesn’t always work with how it was staged. Issues of the stylised furniture aside (it’s all covered in fake turf because… footy?), the pace was continually broken by too-long breaks between scenes.
If more than a few steps have already been taken to stylise things, then why not take one more step, put the actors in blacks and instead of heading off into the wings to get changed and fetch props, the lights drop for a moment to reset then come back up with a sound and the audience understand time has passed and we don’t lose momentum.
Or if they have to get changed, put their respective clothes racks on stage somewhere so the actors don’t have travel so far. These questions don’t usually linger after a show (or stick around when a review is written), but it’s frustrating when excellent performances of an excellent script get hampered by the overall production.
Become The One
Gasworks Theatre – Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham Street, Albert Park
Performance: Friday 1 February 2019 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 9 February 2019
Bookings: www.midsumma.org.au or www.gasworks.org.au
For more information, visit: www.labkelpie.com for details.
Image: Chris Asimo and Henry Strand – photo by Jodie Hutchinson
Review: David Collins