There is always a danger when presenting a show that touches on extremely current and highly charged social issues that it will come across as proselytizing or didactic.
However, the production of Gaybies at the Sumner Theatre at Southbank skillfully manages to avoid this by relying on authentic dialogue from the children of same-sex couples – performed by really top-shelf Australian actors including Trevor Ashley, Virginia Gay and Magda Szubanski.
The effect is that the show always fresh, original and poignant. These are the stories of real people, not the constructed narrative of a writer pushing an agenda. It is all the more human for having come about through such an organic process.
The responses are sometimes surprising. We hear frank discussions of partners and friends effected by the AIDS crisis, the challenges of dealing with school peers in accepting their gay parents, the sometimes challenging ordeal of parents communicating their difference to children.
But mostly we hear from children who not only accept, but come to flourish with the love of same-sex parents.
Some speak of the blessing of having four parents, of learning to embrace difference and the gift of experiencing colourful cultural lives from an early age. The stories are all the more heart warming because they ring true.
The show is simply but beautifully staged around a birthday party table, and the narratives unfold as the characters digress in age and relay their feelings.
It is all interlaced with the gorgeous guitar playing and vocals of Robert Tripolino – providing very effective musical interludes from the core dialogue.
Gaybies is a timely, authentic show graced by great performances, beautifully staged, funny and urgently relevant. It is clear that Midsummas decision to commission works this year has paid off in spades.
Don’t miss it!