The Pride Fest is one of Auckland's loudest and most colourful festivals, but despite the size and diversity of the LGBT showcase, it's all crammed into a brief two-week period.
That means there are a lot of blink-and-you'll-miss-them shows, each one offering its own little slice of queer art. Thankfully, Q Theatre has a double dose of theatrical treats during the first week that highlights the depth and breadth of what the festival offers.
And when it comes to variety, there is no better showcase than Jason Smith and Blaise Clotworthy's Everybody Interesting is Gay.
Back for a second year, the variety hour sees Clotworthy's alter-ego Ms Wednesday guiding audiences through various aspects of modern gay life, with a sprinkling of Ending HIV-sponsored sex education.
Despite a lack of a through line, Everybody is a raucously entertaining tour-de-force, complete with catchy, craftily written original songs by Smith spliced up with tightly choreographed lip sync mashups that make Q's slightly Loft theatre burst with energy.
Play premieres alongside Everybody. The debut work from actor Liam Coleman is a seamless blend of comedy and drama that deftly explores commitment and monogamy. Opening with an outrageously camp Austen-esque play-within-a-play, it then transitions into the life of playwright Rich (Alex Walker) as he finds himself attracted to both a wealthy realtor (Zak Enayat) and a more down-to-earth art gallery worker (Coleman).
While the blindingly funny opener stands at odds with the increasingly sombre relationship drama that follows, Coleman's strong mix of comedy and drama adds to the poignancy of Rich's internal crisis as he is torn between two lovers. He and his fellow actors prove as masterful at deadpan comic delivery as they are at selling the painful love triangle in barely half an hour.
There's a similar tenderness to Everybody's Interesting that comes entirely by surprise. While the comic tunes are Ms Wednesday's most memorable, the show features a pair of ballads about internalised homophobia and the state of the Pride movement that truly highlights the brilliant pairing of Clotworthy's vocals and Smith's lyrics.
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Both shows are as camp and captivating as you'd expect from a Pride Fest event and make for a wildly entertaining night out, but their more serious moments serve as a welcome and ever-present reminder that Pride is as much about recognising what needs to be done as it is celebrating what's been achieved.
What: Everybody Interesting is Gay, Play
Where & when: Q Theatre, until February 7th and 15th respectively
Reviewer: Ethan Sills