As a part of the Midsumma performing arts program ’37 Ways To Say I’m Gay’ is the new play by local Aussie writer Wayne Tunks. The title gives the whole premise of the show away – and it’s here that the show’s greatest hook is also its Achilles heel.
This ‘scene collection’ show presents various situations with one through line – coming out. Either being forced out, voluntarily announcing or being discovered, Tunks script takes you through various eras and setups to express the same idea… you’re going to watch 37 repeated scenes ostensibly showing off the same thing.
Some work really well, some really don’t, but it is all a matter of personal taste in theatre. (The Priest encountering several characters coming out is hilarious, alternately the WWII scene fell apart) The biggest challenge this show imposes is asking you to sit through scene after scene chasing the same resolution.
To me the show seems to be designed for middle Australia, those not fully initiated into the acceptance of homosexuality, giving them an opportunity to experience situations that they may relate. Yeah there’s a bit of nudity, a bit of swearing, a bit of kissing but its all done so hyper-realistically that it’s played for comedy and a cheap thrill – for the uninitiated they’ll get a kick out of it – for bitter old theatre dogs like me it’s all been there done that bought the T-shirt.
Performances are generally strong, outside of the over reliance of that one guy taking his shirt off the whole way through the show (yes we’ve seen it once, move on), even where the script waivers. But outside of being over-exposed to stories like these it’s done pretty inoffensively and easily digestible for most all audiences.
The biggest plus this show delivers is that its a sign that Australian independent playwrights can still get their shows up and in front of an audience – and for that all praise given!
37 WAYS TO SAY I’M GAY is showing at DOWNSTAIRS AT ALMA’S (a great new cabaret venue in Melbourne) and tix can be bought through www.midsumma.com.au