24 Ways to Say I’m Gay (Studio B)
The Arts Centre Gold Coast, The Space
October 7 – 8
“24 Ways to Say I’m Gay” packs a lot into its hour(ish) running time; the show sees eight actors becoming 55 characters as it takes its audience on a sometimes humorous, sometimes confronting look at what it means to be gay through its presentation of a kaleidoscope of stories on coming out.. And it is entirely fitting that the show, which is an abridged version of award winning Australian Playwright Wayne Tunks’ play “37 Ways to Say I’m Gay”, appears as part of the Gold Coast’s Glitter Festival, now in its second year, an arts event that embraces and celebrates diversity, and encourages freedom of expression.
Over its 17 short plays, the show presents a range of sometimes revisited stories that vary in setting and sentiment, taking audiences from Dave the Caveman to modern day gym junkies via Ancient Egyptian innuendo. Whether rural or urban, or set in church, hospital, farmhouse of the halls of political power, the range of relationships on display showcase a variety of different dynamics, including a lot from within family groups. This leads to some poignancy amongst the extensively young male stories, such as when a young gay man’s suicide is covered up and when an AIDS patient clinging to life is rejected by his disapproving family.
Overwhelmingly, however, the stories are upbeat, helped by the joyful song snippets of the Spice Girl and Backstreet Boys breed that punctuate the stories. And there is much humour to the larger groups scenes especially, such as interview of an ‘are they or aren’t they’ boy band and expose of homophobia within gym members.
Performances all show emotional sincerity, staying on the right side of the often fine line between character and caricature. Taylor Seage is engaging as a school captain speaking out about inequality in a topical scene and Johnny Haselam is very funny in straight man role (no pun intended) as a clergyman in the concluding scenes. While Gabriella Flowers and Jacob Langmack, work well together, displaying a good dynamic in different mother and son scenarios.
“24 Ways to Say I’m Gay” is a simple, yet honest production about issues that in the current national climate have perhaps never been of more relevance. Far from being stereotypical, superficial portrayals, its gay characters represent hints of discrete, rounded characters, which cements its artistic importance as an opportunity to educate and celebrate in relation to important social issues.