holding the man

holding the manHolding The Man is nothing short of sensational.

From the cast to the staging to the set to the play itself... it all comes together brilliantly in the State Theatre production.

Firstly, the cast. There are only six actors in the cast... Luke Clayson and Nic English as the two leads and the other four constantly metamorphosise into every other character. And they do it brilliantly.

Catherine Fitzgerald, Geoff Revell, Ellen Steele and Nick Pelomis move effortlessly from earnest University homosexuals to parents to casual sex partners with ease and sometimes with seconds (and a quick costume addition or subtraction) between roles.

But Clayson and English were brilliant... especially given that the play spans 17 years and they take the characters from fumbling teenagers through to full grown men.

English is everything the character of Jon should be (which sounds weird when I think about it because it's an autobiography... so I'm really talking about the real Jon)... he's gorgeous and almost too good to be true (I do wonder if there was some selective polishing that went on when the book was originally being written since Jon really comes across as the perfect guy... which I guess is the whole point). And English perfectly lays that undercurrent of hurt and vulnerability under him.

Clayson, by contrast, nails the much more extreme nature of Tim. He also doesn't take the character too far down the path that he still isn't likeable during some of the more difficult moments.

I feel like I should really talk about the set in the same breath as talking about the characters... without giving away too much of the ending, it does become indelibly intertwined with the two characters as it goes along. I'm not sure if it's a spoiler or not to say that after (or during) each scene, some prop that is brought onto the stage as a link between Tim and Jon is placed into one of the three decreasing arches that make up the set until, at the end, it becomes very much a temple of their relationship, full of mementoes of the past.

When I realised what they were doing about half way through it made me catch my breath... and as I watched various props be added to it for the remainder of the play, I did start to get a little teary.

And yes, I cried... as with a number of the "serious drama plays" I've seen over the last couple of years, the first half always is very funny and entertaining... and it's only in the second half that things start to get heavy and I end up (most of the time) in tears. Maybe I should just learn to leave at intermission.

But, even though it made me cry, I wouldn't have missed it... it's beautifully written, brilliantly staged and perfectly cast. I highly recommend picking yourself up some tickets if you can!

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