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FAG/STAG

"convincing, unsentimental, melancholic performances"

Audrey review: Candour and comedy combine in a piercing study of Millennial manhood.

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Show: FAG/STAG
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FAG/STAG

Date: 11 Jan 2018

Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs strip millennial man naked – emotionally speaking – in this piercing two-hander from Perth theatre company The Last Great Hunt.

Two guys, late twenties, on the eve of the wedding of a woman, Tamara, they have both dated.

Corgan (Isaacs) is straight and privileged. Mum bought him his inner city apartment and car. He doesn’t have to work.

Jimmy (Fowler) is gay, serves as a charity chugger for whatever cause the agency assigns him to. Like Corgan (who is struggling in the wake of his bust-up with Tamara), he’s nursing a broken heart after splitting with his boyfriend.

They hang out a fair bit at Corgan’s place, bonding over beers and serial attempts to get through the final level of Donkey Kong. It is a relationship of few words and unacknowledged depths. A bromance if you like, but one that only flowers when Corgan and Jimmy are alone. When Corgan’s straight mates are around, the dynamic changes markedly.

Though Corgan and Jimmy communicate with each other in monosyllables or drunken text messages sent at 3am from Perth’s nightclub strip, they speak openly to the audience in overlapping monologues offering pointedly differing perspectives on events leading up to Tamara’s big day and the bigger bugbears of loneliness, hook-up culture, homophobia, social anxiety and depression.

Isaacs and Fowler deliver all this in convincing, unsentimental, melancholic performances honed during FAG/STAG’s seasons in Perth and Melbourne (2015), Adelaide (2016) and Edinburgh last year. There’s nothing between actor and character and nothing much else in the production – save for Brett Smith’s sound design – to cushion us from the impact of the script’s candour.

The uplift in FAG/STAG’s final scene might seem calculated to send audiences out smiling. It certainly does (thanks to Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ finest recorded moment) but you can just as easily take it as a moment of respite on a troubled journey toward self-acceptance.

Audiences are overwhelmed with choices at this time of year but if you can find a spare 80 minutes, you’ll be amply entertained and moved by FAG/STAG.

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