Tag: Jeffrey Jay Fowler

REVIEW: The Last Great Hunt Presents FAG/STAG

Authentic, open, affecting theatre

By Myron My

After rave reviews and an extended season at Perth’s Fringe World Festival in 2015, Perth-based theatre company The Last Great Hunt have brought FAG/STAG to this year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival. Written and performed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, it is the simple story of two best friends, one gay and one straight, who are going through some pretty challenging times in their lives.

FAG STAG Image by Jamie Breen

Jimmy (Fowler) and Corgan (Isaacs) each take a seat on opposite ends of the stage. At their disposal, they each have a mobile phone to check their dating apps (grindr for Jimmy and tinder for Corgan) and a PlayStation controller. Using these two items, they recall the moments of their lives leading up to their friend Tamara’s wedding. Tamara also happens to be Corgan’s ex-girlfriend. Corgan is still not completely over their break-up and Jimmy has just broken up with his boyfriend. Life is great.

As an audience member, I much prefer to be shown things in stories rather than be told. However, due to the overall style of the production, I was immediately drawn into FAG/STAGHaving been created through long form improvisations that were later recorded and transcribed, there is a genuine sense of vulnerability coming from the actors as they explore what it means to be a 20-something male in Australia who doesn’t quite have it all together. The duologues are extremely natural in language and in delivery with the experiences of love, happiness, fear and sadness they encounter being so familiar that you cannot help but relate to them with your own.

Fowler and Isaacs are not afraid to play with silence and allow the audience the time to fully comprehend the situations the characters find themselves in. There are some deeply honest and moving elements in FAG/STAG, where the effects stayed with me long after the show ended. However, there are many humorous moments in the show as in life, and the ability that Fowler and Isaacs have in noticing these moments and bringing them to the surface is highly skillful. The final minutes of the performance perfectly sum up what the two have been exploring and created something which will now forever be linked to an iconic song for me.

Just like life, not everything is completely resolved by the end of FAG/STAG, but you walk out with the hope that Jimmy and Corgan are better and stronger because of their experiences and perhaps so are we. Ultimately, despite our individual differences, we are all the same and we all share the same experiences and thoughts and it’s important to be there for each other. Even if it’s just to play Donkey Kong.

FAG/STAG is the kind of theatre that I wish was made more often. FAG/STAG is the kind of theatre that people need to go and see.

Venue: Fringe Hub, Arts House, 521 Queensberry St, North Melbourne, 3051

Season: Until 3 October | Tues-Sat 9pm, Sun 8pm

Tickets:$25 Full | $20 Conc | $15 Cheap Tuesday

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Image by Jamie Breen

REVIEW: Hope is the Saddest for MICF

Don’t let the title deter you…

By Myron My

Hope Is The Saddest debuts at La Mama as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and revolves around three people, Hope (Michelle Robin Anderson), Theo (Jeffrey Jay Fowler) and Marion (Natalie Holmwood) – who, after a chance encounter, are inexplicably drawn into each other’s lives for better or for worse.

What follows is each individual’s attempt at finding hope in their lives and how they help each other in some way, shape or form to achieve this. Through this hope they experience happiness, joy, regret, sadness, anger and despair.

Hope is the Saddest

Despite not actually appearing in the play (as such), Dolly Parton’s presence and influence on these people is obvious with her songs creating the soundtrack to the show, constant references being made to Parton and the life-size cardboard stand-in of her on stage that assures she will remain omnipresent throughout.

All three actors excel in their depictions of Hope, Theo and Marion and really capture their essence and bring them to life, which is not as difficult a task for an actor when you have a script as strong as this. Fowler’s script does not allow for any words to be wasted. Everything spoken is vital to the progression of the story and he has endowed the three characters with three distinct voices. There is also a perfect blend of humour and sadness in this script, just like life, and includes such cheeky dialogue gems as “just get over being gay and stick your tongue in…”

The La Mama stage is divided up into three locations, and considering how small the space is this would not have been an easy thing to devise. Using a large dollhouse to represent Marion’s home was an ingenious idea.

There are a number of interesting narrative devices used in Hope Is The Saddest to further the story that are worth acknowledging. There is the standard dialogue between characters but there are moments where all three actors speak in unison to the audience like a Greek chorus, a split-scene of letter reading and of course, lip-syncing and dancing to some Dolly songs.

Hope Is The Saddest is a beautiful comedic story interspersed with the harsh realities of life. And pancakes. And of course, Dolly Parton.

Venue: La Mama, 205 Faraday St, Carlton

Season: Until 14 April | Wed, Sun 6.30pm | Thu-Sat 7.30pm

Tickets: $25 Full | $15 Concession

Bookings: http://lamama.com.au