Straight Acting – Teachers Club – Review
by Gearoid O’Byrne
Date/Time: 2,7 May @ 14:30 (Matinees); 2-7 May @ 21:00 (Evenings);
Venue: THE TEACHERS CLUB (STUDIO)
As part of the IDGTF
This is a new 2 man comic play by Brian Merriman starring Jeremie Cyr-Cooke and Colin Malone.
Alan, an actor, has been dumped by Audrey and hears of a last-minute opportunity for a role in a play which he desperately needs financially. Unfortunately for him, he arrives for the audition not having previously read the script and there meets Harry who has already secured a role in the play. We learn that Harry’s former partner Tom had previously been cast opposite Harry but, due to their relationship ending, Tom has sought and obtained work elsewhere. Harry likewise desperately needs the show to go on for financial reasons. Alan discovers to his horror that the role is that of a gay man and the two men have 24 hours to determine if Alan can get over his inhibitions and meet the requirements of the role, to enable the show to go on!
This is an interesting and topical subject matter at present – should straight actors play gay roles? In the course of the play, both characters reveal much about themselves, particularly Alan whose background as a rugged rugby player leaves him ill-prepared to contemplate touching another man off the pitch, let alone with love and affection in the role of Harry’s lover.
As with many straight men, their partners do all that “emotional” stuff. Harry challenges him as to whether he is really an actor and if so, why he cannot rise to the challenge if it’s just another role. Both characters reveal a desire for a “wingman”, a friend who would be there for them no matter what. There is an exploration of the meaning and expression of love from both the straight and gay perspectives as the characters reveal their vulnerabilities and find common ground.
Woven throughout the show are references to George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” and snippets from the musical “My Fair Lady” provide incidental music. Can Professor Higgins help Eliza to pass as a lady? Can Harry help Alan to play a gay man? As with any show of this nature, there is much comedic action and cliches explored, from the type of drinks requested to how to sit on a sofa. Boundaries are explored and crossed as Alan discovers how far he can go when pushed.
Both Jeremie Cyr-Cooke (Harry) and Colin Malone (Alan) are absolutely convincing in their roles. All the stage is used and the play is well set.
In the end, it’s not about knowing whether Alan has got the role but rather the journey of self-discovery that both men have undergone and the common ground reached. If the question is can the actor Alan play a gay role, the playwright appears to have answered the same. If the question is whether Alan should, well maybe that should be the subject of a comedic sequel!
This show runs from May 2-7 at 9.00pm at The Teacher’s Club Studio, 36 Parnell Square West, Dublin 1.
Tickets for all shows in the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival are available at www.gaytheatre.ie