The setting for the play is Kings Cross in Sydney. The main character is Shane, a teenager from Goulburn, a city of about 25,000 people near Canberra in Southern NSW.
The impossibly young, Sam Dunn, who plays the character of Shane, is a teenager who runs away from home in Goulburn. He’s experimenting with his sexuality and because of this gets to meet Will (Ben Stiller) and Peter (Tony Phelan).
Meanwhile back home in Goulburn his older brother (also played by Ben Stiller) is coming to grips with his own demons, which Shane was either unaware of or had tried to supress his understanding of.
The plotline, of course, is not too dissimilar to a thousand other places which have been staged in the Mardi Gras festival: young boy from the country moves to the city to express his sexuality. Unlike many others plays which have tended to romanticise the story – young boy comes to Sydney, falls in love, lives happily ever after – this play recognises the difficulties of such a move.
The play is genuinely funny. The whole audience laughed constantly.
The performances of all three actors were also very good.
I was touched by the play on many levels, especially when I discovered the playwright, Tommy Murphy comes originally from Queanbeyan, a town not dissimilar to Goulburn.
Significantly, Goulburn has a gaol and Goulburn has a very high rate of male youth suicide.
And although the play was staged at about the time of Mardi Gras, it wasn’t actually part of the festival, which may be interpreted on many different levels.
This is not really a “gay play”, it’s just a play… and a very good one at that! In fact it’s the first play in a while that I’ve actively encouraged friends to attend.