fringe: the sheds

adelaide fringe: the sheds
The Sheds asks the question "What happens when an AFL player comes out?"...

Or at least that was how it was billed, but to be honest, the play isn't really about that... and for most of the hour running time, it doesn't especially feel like it's about much of anything.

We're introduced to the story by Liam, played by Ludwik Exposto... at first you assume it's going to be Liam's story about coming out, but that actually belongs to Darren, played by Pat Chirico. And essentially the coming out part is over within the first five minutes of the play.

Rounding out the trio of footballers/actors is Jimmy, played by Andii Mulders, who is the catalyst for moving the story along as much as it does.

It's also weird that Liam is the ongoing narrator... to me it would have made more sense for Darren to be telling the story, but we never get inside his head.

Of the three actors Exposto is the most built like the fantasy ideal of the AFL player (and to my eye the most attractive of the trio), but with his very deep voice and the faintest trace of some other accent I found him difficult to understand from time to time. Chirico looks more like what I think an AFL player traditionally looks, whereas Mulders looks more like the rookies in pre-season before they pack on 20kg of muscle.

I also felt a little bit at a distance from the actors (not literally, given that I was sitting in the front row), and there were only a couple of moments that really felt real to me, one of which was when Exposto had to reassemble part of the IKEA bench he'd thrown across the room in the previous room, and the other was both his and Chirico's reaction to an overly enthusiastic beer bottle.

What the play feels like it fails to do is really dig into the meat of what it would be like as the first out gay AFL player... it feels like it skirts the entire issue for the most part, other than using it as the set up at the beginning and uses it for the basis of the denouement at the end of the play.

I didn't need the character of Darren to become the Mardi Gras poster boy, but it feels like such a non-issue in the story that Darren may as well have been hiding dyslexia or illiteracy or something.

Mulders manages to portray the increasingly homophobic Jimmy in such a way that he quickly becomes far too real and representative of a certain section of the world. At the same time I didn't really feel like the play gave him enough motivation for the change in his character.

The resolution of Jimmy's character at the end wasn't anywhere near as surprising as I think it was supposed to be, and to be honest also felt like it was just thrown out a little too quickly in an almost "blink and you'll miss it" kind of way.

And as another review I read said, the three characters feel more like they'd fit into a suburban footy club rather than the big leagues and the play may have worked better if it had been relocated there.

Which isn't to say that it was all bad... I mean any play with full frontal male nudity always gets a few extra points in my book (and Exposto gets a couple of additional points on top of that... just because he looked so damn good naked... dat ass, to coin a phrase)...

And because the entire play is set within the confines of the locker room, all three characters seemed to be constantly in the process of dressing or undressing or packing or unpacking their sportsbags. Because it's always good when actors have something to do with their hands.

Plus there are some nice moments between Exposto and Chirico.

But all in all it feels like something that hasn't quite gelled yet, which is a shame, because it could have been something powerful.

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