Play: Holding the Man

On election night, I was in Whitehall at the Trafalgar Studios watching the Australian (gay) play Holding the Man. The play is about two boys and their fifteen year relationship from meeting at a good Catholic school in Melbourne in the late seventies through to the early nineties.  It is based on the book of the same name. The story is part coming of age, part coming out, part gay life in oz in the eighties, and part dealing with HIV and AIDs. Two out of the four parts are quite depressing, but at least the coming out and coming of age parts are charming.

Surprisingly for a play that has won a lot of awards (in Australia), I found it to be like a cliff notes version of the book. While I have not read the book, after seeing the play I feel I have a sense of its geography, but not its sentiment. The direction and staging don't help much either, which is fairly uninspired with too many "comic" diversions and a set that looks like a tip.

This is a shame as the cast are great and the chemistry between the two leads Guy Edmonds and Matt Zerimes was very believable and they are two actors to watch in future... Jane Turner and Simon Burke are also in the cast but they play mostly comic supportive roles. It is nice to see them both, particularly Turner, making her West End debut, but I was not quite sure what they added to the show.

The play is at the Trafalgar Studios, where Dirty White Boy is also playing. I think they would make an excellent double bill of Holding the Dirty White Man. Both plays are surely worth catching if you are a single gay male about town. Johnnyfox switched on his Grindr in the theatre and the thing went crazy. It is fascinating to see slightly undressed versions of people who are just metres away from you as well... Well, if you like that sort of thing...


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