Homos, or Everyone in America – New Theatre (NSW)
By Jordan Seavey Australian Premiere, Presented as part of Mardi Gras+
Reviewed by Bradley Roe
New Theatre, Newtown
Season 6 February – 3 March
A timely reminder - with Mardi Gras sparkling near - of how relationships change throughout history, and the beauty found in queer storytelling.
Homos, or Everyone in America showcases the tumultuous nature of relationships, queer or otherwise, through the lens of a partnership of two ‘homos’ who meet online. It displays how relationships blossom, wilt, and regrow through time and how our differences in opinion around the nature of successful relationships, politics and addiction can push us apart and pull us together.
The New Theatre in Newtown has such an exciting ambience when the doors open, and the crowd starts to fill its foyer. The predominately queer audience had an air of anticipation walking into the opening night of the Australian premiere performance of this very American play.
New Theatre's production of Homos, Or Everyone in America: Photos © Chris Lundie
The space of the New Theatre was left mostly bare, with no curtains and a simple, yet effective set. The space was divided into three key tableaus, where we start our journey in a Lush store, where we see the lover’s relationship begin, growing and changing in a wine bar, and finally where we finish the play in a simple apartment, with bedding and key pieces of basic furniture. Other areas of the space are well used, as waiting spaces for the two additional actors who are not being used to show the consistent presence in the two lovers’ lives. These spaces are cleverly separated by the effective lighting design by Paris Bell to overall serve as a platform for this thought-provoking story to be told.
This beautifully poignant and socially relevant story is carried on the back of four incredibly hardworking and gifted actors. Reuben Solomon, The Writer, attacked the role with such passion and vigour, although at times they lacked a range in dynamics. Moments felt like the character was always angry, but this also gave insight into the frustration of the queer artist in this world.
In contrast, Edward O’leary, The Academic, gave us a master class in emotional dynamics which ranged from a vulnerable lover to an enraged political fighter. This dynamic range, paired with his ability to peel back the layers of insecurity in his co-star, is what truly brought this relationship to light.
With O'Leary and Solomon given such an emotional story to tell, the task of levity was left to the two other actors on stage, and they rose to the occasion in brilliantly. Axel Berecry as Dan was dynamic, playful, and vibrant in his portrayal of this fun and frisky character. Giving the audience a sense of mystery to who this man was, while playing into the jealousies of the leads. However, the standout for me was Sonya Kerr as Laila. With only a few scenes she was able to truly draw the audience into her world and take us on an emotional journey involving bath bombs and human kindness. Under the direction of Alex Kendall Robson, the four actors were tasked with presenting a tumultuous story, which they did so with emotion, talent, and tenacity throughout.
A timely reminder of how all relationships change...and that queer stories are vital in preserving our history.
The play itself was intriguing, moving and, at times, confusing. It is not one to see if you are easily confused by time jumps and trying to pick up where other spaces have left off. I also felt that some themes and references were specifically aimed at an American audience. Robson’s direction guided the audience through these time jumps as best they could through the effective use of the space, consistency in blocking and lighting, and reoccurring motifs in space and movement. However, the themes of love, relationship and finding a place in this everchanging society transcend any nationality and Homos, or Everyone in America had these in spades.
Homos, or Everyone in America is an intriguing, charming, and an emotional look at what relationships look like in the modern world. It’s perception of queerness and our relationship with a heteronormative society is thought provoking and, at times, simply stunning. This play is perfectly placed in the Mardi Gras + program as a timely reminder of how all relationships change, how homophobia and violence still exist, and that queer stories are vital in preserving our history.
Director Alex Kendall Robson
Production Designer Zara Pittioni
Sound Designer David Wilson
Cultural Consultant Paris Freed
Intimacy Coordinator Sonya Kerr
Stage Manager Lilly McMahon
Preview Tue 6 Feb 7:30pm
Opening Night Wed 7 Feb 7:30pm
Thu – Sat 7:30pm, Sun 2pm
Performances on Sat 2 & 9 Mar 2pm only
Running time: 105 minutes
Please note: latecomers will be admitted at a suitable break in the performance
Concessions, Groups (6+) $32
New Theatre Members $25
Mardi Gras Members $25
Thrifty Thursdays $25