Wednesday, May 14, 2014

International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, 'Man Enough'

An 18-year-old embraces his out-and-proud lifestyle. Just don't fall for the coke-addicted rent boy. 

Teacher's Club
May 9-10

My review of Man Enough by Dan Peter Reeves coming up just as soon I serve salmon for breakfast ...

What makes the bad boys so irresistible? Dan Peter Reeves' play for the British Exist Theatre company sees 18-year-old Chris become smitten with a brazen rent-boy. His frank flatmate Kate isn't the only one concerned about the emotional fallout or health risks: "You gays are supposed to be smart about this".  

It's no exaggeration to say that Reeves plays his protagonist with all the naiveté in the world, frolicking promiscuously at the end of his teens, seeming to miss every day of work in his life. He's about to meet a world of trouble. 

Love makes fools of us all, and Reeves tries to claim this to be the case. However, his play doesn't feel ready yet. That well of enormous feeling that the poets ramble on about, the dimensions of an all-consuming passion, he hasn't fully tapped. The performances haven't excavated the emotional territory either. Reeves and Jake Flowers - playing audacious escort Joey - are better at measuring the distance that emerges between the two characters than they are at convincing us of their blustering passion. Crucially, at the end of the play it feels that no transformation has taken place.  

Bethan Francis is really the fire in the production, and the most eager - her delivery steps on the toes of her co-performers sometimes. If she were to delay herself by one millisecond she'd be stunning.

With the sunny strains of a guitar she sings: "Here I stand. Here I am. I know not what you wanted to see". It's the closest the performance gets to that whole-hearted leap into a relationship that sadly can't last.

What did everybody else think?

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