All Our Lesbians are Dead + The Things I Could Never Tell Steven - Monday 18th September
A blonde woman clips a small microphone to my lapel, and I’m directed to move back into the light. More. More. Okay, that’s good.
“What do you think the show will be about?”
I’m at the New Theatre to see All Our Lesbians are Dead, written and directed by Natalie Krikowa. The show embeds real statistics in the satirical world of P.I. Abby Jacobs, who must dodge her soap-star-turned-beat-poet landlord, her developing alcoholism and even bullets to discover the secret of why all the lesbians are being violently offed in TV shows.
Early on, we watch two characters set up a portable projector to display a PowerPoint. There’s a string of photographs of fictional lesbians who have been killed by: stabbing; throat slitting; multiple arrows to the heart; crossbow to the eyes; more throat slitting; more stabbing; and crushing. The audience sighs audibly in collective regret when the last face appears: Poussey from OITNB. At the end of the scene, we are left for a moment to ponder the last slide, canvassing one simple word: Why?
The most powerful points of the production call out major TV networks for the astonishingly high acts of “KTG” – killing the gays. As one character poignantly reflects, “watching ourselves die over and over again is much worse that not watching ourselves at all.”
I spend the hour between shows milling in the foyer, chatting to Natalie and a few others. We discuss the show, the risks of stunt doubling and whether tiny items of baby clothing are cute or disturbing. It’s here I learn that the crew are all female, and the stage manager, lighting operator and sound operator are all first-timers who have struggled to find opportunities to gain experience in the industry. It’s a genuinely affirming moment, meeting creatives who not only bring personal passion and activism to their work, but also a culture of co-construction and development. I make a mental note to like the Facebook page when I get home.
The bell rings and the house goes live, as we all file in to see The Things I Could Never Tell Steven. I’m buzzing, excited to see this new Australian musical by Jye Bryant.
The show is slick. The four performers – Matilda Moran, Ruth Strutt, Adam Majsay and Lucas Glover – demonstrate serious vocal prowess, balancing 90 minutes of almost exclusively sung material with superb characterisation. A shout out to MD Antonio Fernandez, whose piano accompaniment is both skilful and impressive. While the solos are strong, I’m always a sucker for the chorus numbers. The highlights by far occur when all four characters - Wife, Mother, Father and Ex - stand in a line across the stage, nailing beautifully arranged harmonies and overlapping lyrics about Steven; a character we never see, but who ties everyone together in a complex portrait of suppressed sexual identity.
It’s abundantly clear that Queer Fringe is electric. And it's holding up a giant, sparkly middle finger to those who would waste their money and morals scrawling hate in the sky.
[Tomorrow Max scopes out immediate manifestations of sound and design at the Now Now and UTS Design Showcase]
Written by Genevieve De Souza