Sunday, August 6, 2017

'78 REASONS TO STAY THE NIGHT



Written and directed by Trevar Alan Chilver
The Courtyard, Canberra Theatre Centre to 6 August

Reviewed by Len Power 3 August 2017

As the struggle for equal rights for gay people continues with the current debate over marriage equality, local writer Trevar Alan Chilver’s play, “’78 Reasons To Stay The Night” gives us an opportunity to look back at the very different world Australian gay men faced in 1978.

In the play, a young rent boy has a sex appointment with a 71 year old.  Afterwards, the boy listens to the older man’s reminiscences about the 1978 Mardi Gras clash with police in Sydney and other shocking incidents that were part of being gay at that time.  These stories have quite an impact on the boy, making him think about his own situation and current gay issues.

In this production, we don’t know enough about the three characters’ backgrounds or motivations to feel any real empathy, the relationships between the characters aren’t realistic and the young men’s decisions at the end of the play lack believability.

L. to R.: Daniel Greiss, Kerin O'Brien, Brandon J. Davenport
Playing the elderly man, Kerin O’Brien read his role with script in hand for the play’s duration.  Whatever the reason for this, it severely limited his performance.  Brandon J. Davenport as the young rent boy was inaudible for much of the time and his performance lacked energy.  David Greiss, as the rent boy’s best friend, was unconvincing in his emotional scenes, which were not well written.

The idea behind this play is a good one.  There are strong and interesting stories to tell about the vastly different experiences of older and younger gay men in this country where so much has changed in the past fifty years.  While a lot of research has obviously been done on the history of the time, Chilver’s play fails to satisfy in writing, performance and direction.

This review was first published in the Canberra City News digital edition on Friday 4 August.  Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program (9am Saturdays) and other selected Artsound programs.

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