Unmissable Midsumma fare
By Ross Larkin
“Before Stonewall, a braver bunch of us stood up to the plate… before there even was a plate”.
The Temperamentals is a curious little piece based on true events. Written by Jon Marans in 2009, it made a significant impression off-Broadway, and has maintained a cult following and critical respect since. Local favourite Mockingbird Theatre provides the perfect team to re-imagine this important story as an inclusion in the 2014 Midsumma Festival and a Melbourne premiere.
The Temperamentals is set in the USA in the 1950’s, when homosexuals were forced to lead secret lives of façade and repression in a society of bigotry. However, five young men dared to reveal their truths and confront the world around them, by founding the first gay rights organisation called the Mattachine Society. The group is accelerated into ambition when its member, Dale Jannings (Sebastian Bertoli) is arrested by an undercover cop in a public toilet.
Bertoli is exceptional as the unassuming Jannings, with the ability to maintain striking presence and poignant subtlety at once. In fact, director Chris Baldock’s casting overall is outstanding. The small ensemble of five, most of who play a variety of characters, exhibit genuine versatility and chemistry with highly accomplished direction.
Tim Constantine in particular, who plays Austrian fashion icon Rudi Gernreich, engages charisma, shame, passion and hurt with an understated three-dimensional beauty that allures audience members during his journey. Angelo De Cata, as Mattachine Society protagonist Harry Hay, is also a solid centrepiece, embodying a brave but pained man with excellent conviction, while supporters Angus Cameron and Jai Luke add a kick of colour and humour to the otherwise intense circumstances.
The Temperamentals is a slow-burner, with more telling than doing, and may not grab you until you’ve truly fallen for its beloved characters. However, it’s most certainly worth holding tight for, because fall you will – in another highly praiseworthy example of Chris Baldock and Mockingbird’s ability to stage some of the most noteworthy theatre in town.
The Temperamentals is playing now at The Brunswick Mechanics Institute Performing Arts Centre (corner of Glenlyon and Sydney Roads, Brunswick) as part of the 2014 Midsumma Festival.
Tue 21 Jan – Sat 25 Jan at 8pm
Sun 26 Jan at 5pm
Tue 28 Jan – Sat 1 Feb at 8pm