REVIEW: Fr!sk Presents I STILL CALL AUSTRALIA HOMO

Telling, amusing musings

By Myron My

We read about the countries where homosexuality is illegal and even punishable by death. In fact, it’s not so long ago that homosexuality was still illegal in Australia. But what if Australia was in fact, the worst place to be gay? This is what I Still Call Australia Homo speculates over in a clever and humorous way.

I Still Call Australia HomoWritten and performed by Emma Annand, Sonja Bishopp, Adam Ibrahim and Ryan Forbes, the laughs in this performance come through thick and fast whilst the narrative still gets its poignant message across. I enjoyed the fact the writers chose a lighter tone to tell this story rather than going down the dark and serious path. Even though this alternate-Australia is now persecuting homosexuals and experiencing a bombardment of rallies, protests and violence, we don’t see any of that. In fact, apart from some news grabs, we really don’t deal with this powerful backdrop at all.

What we do see are two married couples living the suburban dream, a Stepford Wives-like existence, and this is in part to do with Jack Fordham’s simple yet creative and effective set design and costuming. The couples both have their perfectly kept lawns and rose bushes and their white picket fences while enjoying their BBQs, dinner parties and yoga classes… unfortunately, the two “husbands” are actually falling in love with each other, and it’s here the struggle and turmoil occurs.

With regards the acting, all the cast are admirable, but Bishopp more or less steals all her scenes as the extremely uptight and frustrated Pippa: her nuanced facial expressions, physicality and voice epitomised the overwrought and repressed housewife. Forbes also does well with the male macho bravado of Jake, and with revealing his internal struggle to be true to himself in a world that just won’t allow it.

I would love to see I Still Call Australia Homo get a second life at some point, as more people should have the opportunity to see this play. It is a highly enjoyable piece of theatre, which cleverly mixes humour with an important and meaningful message about equality: does it really matter if the guy next door could in fact be the gay next door?

I Still Call Australia Homo was performed during Fr!sk Festival at the Victorian College of the Arts, as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.

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