This week has been a week of things happening in the world. Most of them, probably 99% have been awful. But in little old New Zealand something that was all about love happened too – we equalised marriage rights.
Leading up to this bill passing there was a lot of talk about what ‘gay marriage’ would lead to but what stood out to me the whole time was that it wasn’t necessarily about the marriage itself. It was about not being excluded. Not being different – or at least discriminated against for being different.
It consequently felt pretty damn right to be in the audience of Queen while this bill was passing.
Written by Sam Brooks and directed by Jacinta Scadden (both of Unitec training), Queen is an exploration of gay identity as a young adult. It explores the first kiss as a young boy, the first fuck as a teenager and all of the emotions and experiences associated with that.
With Samuel Christopher, Cole Jenkins and Luke Wilson on board, the show operates around a series of monologues. As camp as anything, the boys whip their experiences across the space flinging around ideas like – do I have to be representative of all gays? why are there no adult male gay role models that I want to be like? p.s. I may hang out with girls but I’m not a girl and the one that really got me thinking – why do people like to talk about how they came out?
Because having to come out in of itself is bizarre. Maybe some people like it (I don’t know, I’ve never had to) but why should you be expected to declare that you like the same sex as your own? If you want to then of course that’s great, but from my outsider, person who studies indigenous/ minority groups perspective it strikes me as a device that emphasises that being gay is not ‘normal.’
But maybe that’s how young gay men feel – whether because that’s what they’re told to feel or because that’s genuinely what’s going on in their heads? Speaking to this confusion and highlighting a degree of self obsession in the young gay male is Morgan Albrecht with her explanation of ‘baby gays.’ In this monologue Albrecht is hilarious and natural. Her inclusion is a bit odd though, throughout the rest of the show I found myself trying to work out how she fitted in alongside the three male cast members and then getting distracted and watching her hands move around.
As Queen nears its end they begin to explore gay bashing, hate and the word faggot. It gets dark when one actor suggests that men are afraid of being laughed at but women are afraid of being raped – but actually that I’m afraid of being raped too. They’re important conversations and for the most part interesting and provoking or by the same token amusing and fabulous (there’s some Beyonce praise in there fyi). But then it concludes with a proclamation of, ‘I am Queen and I am here.’ They spray a pink crown on the wall and I get the impression that despite all the great ideas that have been spouted throughout the show that at the end they’re just reverting to type – to whats expected.
It’s the reverting to type that would be my one major criticism of Queen. While Brooks has written some beautiful monologues and the male actors are captivating they’re also almost too consistently camp – the caricature of what a gay man should be and ironically what the monologues seem to be wanting to move past.
Despite this I feel like I should emphasise that Queen is a play with good bones. It’s a play that got me thinking and got me wanting to nit pick it. And I think that’s a good thing to see in a debut iteration of a script.
Queen is on at the Basement until the 25th of April. More details, ticket info etc can be found here.