We’ve all been there, waking up in the morning after a big night, stranger in our bed, not knowing who they are, and slowly remembering what happened the night before. While usually they leave unceremoniously, we have all experienced what happens when they don’t leave. Checking texts on their phone, scrolling through photos and making small talk with no inclination in their voice or tone to wanting to leave.
This is exactly the opening premise of This Genuine Moment, Jacob Parker’s play that is part of Midsumma Festival 2021. It is worth nothing that this was my first trip back to the theatre since Covid stuck down, so my expectations were ridiculously high and I was not let down.
A huge part of the theatre experience is the interaction between the audience and the performance on stage, this show utilises text messages, Grindr messages and other background information that the audience needs all projected onto a screen. This made it feel like one of the storylines in a movie like Love Actually when the story progresses to reveal L and R’s deep-seated fears about coming out to their families and how this is integrated into the seemingly surface story that takes a turn later in the show.
After the surface level wake up scenario moves forward, the next layer of the show starts to explore Riley (R) who is preparing to come out to his family and friends and is seeking affirmation from L about doing this. Director Hayden Tonazzi has allowed a depth to these characters and poses the ultimate question; Why is it easier to be honest with a complete random stranger than with our friends and family? This is something that I have faced many times in my life and is a lightbulb moment for the audience who would have also experienced a similar situation.
Tom Dawson and Ilai Swindells are incredibly charismatic as both L and R, and their chemistry together completely holds the show. Allowing them to be together in a physical sense, having them come together and realise that they have more in common than they originally thought is such a joy to watch unfold on stage. The show’s set is quite minimalistic, intimate and small with a little amount of flooring around the bed, but this helps to constrict the conversation that is being had and how it is delivered.
Midsumma has been a welcome return to the live scene for Melbourne and Rock Bottom Productions’ This Genuine Moment is definitely a highlight. This show is packed with plenty of humour and fun while also allowing a deeper dive into the lives of gay men and how we deal with families, friends and the life we feel we need to portray.
This Genuine Moment will be playing at La Mama as part of Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival until May 2, 2021.
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Photography by Darren Gill.