Steven Fales returns to Australia for his one-man show Confessions Of A Mormon Boy as part of the Midsumma Festival. The show is based around Fales’ life and actual experiences of growing up as a sixth generation Mormon, knowing that his family, friends and the church would never accept his homosexual lifestyle.
The story begins at the point of Fales‘ childhood, growing up in the church and being shaped into living the Mormon life. Following in his family’s footsteps, Fales focuses on his prayers and dedications to the church, going on his mission after he finishes college. From here, Fales recounts the thousands of dollars that he and his family spent on different therapists and psychiatrists in an attempt to get rid of any of the same-sex feelings that he has, so that he can have a ‘forever family’ and spread the word of the Latter Day Saints to the world. As his life moves forward he gets married to a woman with a father who also had same-sex attractions and actually died from AIDS after ‘giving in to temptation’. She is aware of Fales tendencies and decides to marry him anyway, having two children.
As Fales tries to get into acting on Broadway, with his frequent trips to New York City and sneaky visits to see small shows he meets a guy in the audience who catches his attention. They exchange information and a long distance romance nearly starts. When Fales is back at home with his wife and kids, he still secretly goes out with other guys on the side to try and satisfy and subdue his strong undeniable feelings. When everything eventually comes out, the actions taken by his wife and church are swift and harsh. Fales is ex-communicated from the church for homosexuality (which is hilarious as according to them it doesn’t exist) and his wife gets full custody of their two children. This all happens within the first act!
The second act of the show kicks into gear with a move to New York City. Fales still wants to make it big as an actor and with a little financial help from his father, he moves to ‘The Big Apple’ in an attempt to be closer to his goal of being on Broadway. It is here that he starts to try and find himself in the gay world. Starting out as a waiter and falling prey to using his body, Fales turns to life as a sex worker to try and fill the void of leaving his family behind. In conjunction with this, he also turns to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain, fuelled by the money from rich clients, Fales once again loses his way, now on the other side of the coin.
The show takes a serious turn here dealing with the party and erratic New York lifestyle that the late 90s and early 2000s allowed. While the majority of the show is funny and seemingly light, as the show progresses, it take a more serious and dark turn. The dark moments are intense and there are some great choreographed sequences that use light, shadows and music, which only enhances Fales’ storytelling.
There are a few costume changes during the show as each stage of Fales‘ story moves forward. Fortunately, all the changes are done in front of the audience, including his ‘rent boy outfit’ which does not disappoint. There are some great lighting and audio effects that are a catalyst for connecting the past to the present. Actual audio footage of Fales‘ singing as a child also gives the show an added touch of nostalgia and authenticity. In an intimate stage setting, equipped with some eye-catching costume changes to boot, Fales‘ charisma, commanding stage presence and excellent storytelling carries the show and elevates it, uncovering the solid truth about his life and delivering an outstanding addition to this year’s Midsumma Festival.
Written, directed and acted by Steven Fales, with the content all based on his own life, Fales‘ allows for his emotion and connection to the source material to showcase a raw and dynamic performance, all while still appearing natural. Watching Fales at work during Confessions of a Mormon Boy, you feel every emotional, every happiness and every frustration that Fales‘ went through as he takes us on a roller-coaster journey of self-discovery. Fales has this incredible ability to have you laughing out loud one minute, to crying the next. The entire audience during my viewing were incredibly captivated by Fales‘ tale, feeding off his every word and movement.
It was odd having this material thrust in the spotlight and felt that it was very confronting. Having grown up in the Pentecostal Church myself, I was also subjected to a lot of the similar conversations and counselling that Fales had to endure. Mixing in the comedic and more serious dark details of what happened cut right through my heart. I am unashamed to say that I cried several times during the show as my own past and that of my family played out on stage before my eyes. There were times when Fales re-encountered specific conversations and counselling discussions that were almost identical to what I encountered.
While we hear a lot of coming out stories and becoming accepting of who we are, Fales‘ experience is something that is not often thrust into the spotlight. Movies, TV, plays, shows, books all tell of the young who are coping with bullies in high school and come out in a much more ‘Glee-like’ level of acceptance. Fales shines a light on the AIDS epidemic and I related to his struggles with addiction and wanting to pave your own way, while also still having a family. Confessions of a Mormon was a great therapy session for some of my repressed experiences that I didn’t realise were lurking just under the surface, waiting to be unleashed.
Make sure you don’t miss out on this incredible show! I cannot recommend Confessions of a Mormon Boy enough. Some of the remaining sessions are sold out, so make sure you jump online and grab your support friend a ticket while you are there. Confessions of a Mormon Boy is a well told 90-minute experience of a life that needs to be seen and heard.
Confessions of a Mormon Boy is now playing at Chapel Off Chapel as part of the Midsumma Festival from February 7 – 9.
For more information and ticketing, visit: https://mormonboyexperience.com
Photography by Carol Rose.