Theatre review: The lighter side of gross talk and church-going gays

By Janet McAllister

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Actor Beulah Koale in Victor Rodger's two-man play  Black Faggot . Photo / Tanu Gago
Actor Beulah Koale in Victor Rodger's two-man play Black Faggot . Photo / Tanu Gago

Does the Russian meteor make the backyard blue-cheese "asteroid" in A Night to Dismember easier to swallow? Er, no. But the impossible details and silly similes make this one-man, shaggy-dog story a lot of fun.

In character as a clueless teenager, clever Aussie language wrangler Wil Greenway tells us of his craving for grapes - they "get better and better and better, like seasons of The Wire" - and the benefits of having his arms chewed off by sharks ("I met a pretty girl and I didn't have clammy hands!").

He ramps up the "eww gross" factor and gets away with it with a mix of likeability and ridiculousness - rotting flesh on a man's legs is described as "falling like vomit" and someone's throat "split[s] open like a birthday card".

Light, slight and gleefully immature - a good way to start a fun drunken night in town.

More substantial, Black Faggot is a high-energy, feelgood two-hander by New Zealand playwright Victor Rodger.

In a similar format to Toa Fraser's Bare, apparently unconnected characters flash past in hilarious quick sketches. It's a pastiche of what it means to be young, gay and partying when you come from a Samoan, church-going family.

A father asks why his son was looking at "big black cocks" on the web; his son says he's doing a school assignment "about minority chickens". An old hand tries to put a nervous newcomer at a club at ease: "The one thing that makes me wish I was straight is the music at gay bars."

The coming-out dilemmas may seem a little familiar, and perhaps a gay rights speech is unnecessary, but situations are well-chosen and the dialogue and physical comedy spot-on.

The personable actors - versatile Iaheto Ah Hi and hot new thing Beulah Koale - throw themselves into their performances with vigour. It's nicely paced by director Roy Ward with good transitions between moods. A great Bare successor.

Theatre

What: A Night to Dismember (until March 2), Black Faggot (until Feb 20)
Where: The Basement, Greys Ave

- NZ Herald

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