When: Thursday, 9 August - Saturday, 1 September
Where: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland
How much: $30 - $49
Phillip meets Oliver when his wife Sylvia arranges for the three of them to go out for dinner. The tension between the two men is palpable and itís soon clear why. Phillip is gay but from a young age has learned to repress his desire. His reaction is not unexpected given this story takes place in the late 50s. The two men, we later find out, have an affair but the burden eventually proves too much for Phillip.
Fast forward 50 odd years and a gay couple with the same names and played by the same actors (Simon London and Kip Chapman) are in the process of breaking up. Oliver, despite being deeply in love with Phillip, constantly lies about his addiction to anonymous sex. Phillip canít take it any longer and leaves but Oliver refuses to believe itís really over. This time Sylvia (Dena Kennedy) is the friend in the middle, rather than the wife in the middle.
In the modern version, Kennedyís character is loud, charismatic and funny. As the wife of a man living a lie, she knows how to put on a cheerful front but once the strain begins to show, her strength in the face of great suffering makes for captivating viewing. A fourth actor (Sam Snedden) plays the multiple roles of a struggling actor, a magazine editor and a psychiatrist. Despite these being secondary roles, he brings a great deal of humanity and humour to his characters.
At almost two and a half hours this play is long but the fact it never drags is a testament to the tight scriptwriting and the dynamism of the characters. I canít even really fault some of the extremely sentimental language used by the 1950s Oliver, which would undoubtedly have made me cringe had it been delivered by a lesser actor. When Oliver tells Phillip that he had come to realise: ďthe world was wrong and what I felt was honest and pure and good,Ē he manages to pull it off with sincerity.
Alexi Kaye Campbellís debut play, directed by Sophie Roberts, is more than just a play about how attitudes have changed towards and within the gay community. Itís a highly charged, poignant and witty piece of theatre which speaks of the need to know and accept yourself before you can learn to love another.
Absolutely loved it. The most compelling piece of theatre Iíve seen this year.