‘Queers’ comes up trumps

Characters in “Queers”, from left, Jess Waterhouse, Colin Giles and Pip Carroll.

“Queers”. Curated by Mark Gatiss, co-directed by Steph Roberts and Jarrad West. At Canberra Theatre Centre until April 20. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

“QUEERS”, a series of eight short monologues, was developed for television in 2017 in response to the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 in Britain, which decriminalised homosexual acts in private between two men aged 21 or over.

Curator, Mark Gatiss, wrote one of the monologues and commissioned other contemporary writers for the others, creating an absorbing account of changing gay experiences for a full century starting from 1917.

Everyman Theatre’s production includes seven of the eight monologues. It’s a pity one had to be left out but, with a running time of three hours for the show, it’s understandable.

The Courtyard Studio in the Canberra Theatre Centre has been attractively decorated as an English pub, The Prince’s Arms, with chairs and tables and a bar where drinks can be purchased before and during the show. The performers are seated amongst the audience, drawing us effectively into their stories. Sight lines and sound volume aren’t a problem no matter where you sit as the performers move around the room while presenting their monologues.

There’s a short break between each monologue and, adding nicely to the pub atmosphere, singer Louiza Blomfield and pianist, Alex Unikowski, as The Beards expertly perform songs from the various eras to set the mood. Blomfield changes costumes to suit each period of the show.

The performances by Alex Hoskison, Jess Waterhouse, Karina Hudson, Chris Baldock, Cole Hilder, Pippin Carroll and Colin Giles are excellent. There’s tremendous depth in their vocal and physical acting resulting in very believable portraits of these characters from the various time periods.

The directors’ concept for this production is superb. Steph Roberts and Jarrad West have produced an entertaining, thoughtful, funny and moving show that works very well in the cleverly atmospheric setting designed by West and Chris Zuber. Jennie Norberry’s costume designs nicely reflect the time periods.

We’ve come to expect fine work from local company, Everyman Theatre, and “Queers” is up there amongst their best.

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