Presenter: The Last Great Hunt
By Rhys Tarling
Fag/Stag is a 50 minute two man show about the pitfalls of being a directionless 20 something – the disappointing hookups, hangovers, trying to pass an impossible-to-beat-level on Donkey Kong, and that nagging feeling that you’re not living up to your potential. Most importantly, it’s about the deep fraternal bond between Jimmy’s straight BFF Corgan (Chris Isaacs) and Corgan’s gay BFF Jimmy (Jeffrey Jay Fowler). Although one prefers men and the other prefers women, there’s much they have in common – including playing the monotonous, soul-souring dating game that is Tinder and Grindr.
It begins with Jimmy and Corgan rapidly rattling off names and backstories of other people that we, the audience, would never actually see – was I expected to keep track of all these names, backstories, and whatever-the-hell-else without faces attached? Thankfully it eases up at about 5 minutes in and the other characters are integrated into the drama organically.
Jimmy is reeling from a breakup with his ex-boyfriend Tim, who still remains his plus one to his friend Tamara’s wedding. This little fact is excuse enough for Jimmy to continue to text his ex to predictably unsatisfying results.
Corgan, unemployed and single, lives in an apartment payed for by his parents. He seems to have no particular designs on much else in life except for beating that difficult level on Donkey Kong with his best pal Jimmy. Tamara’s upcoming wedding also gives cause for Corgan to brood as Tamara is his one-that-got-away.
Feeling the pangs of loneliness, Corgan invites Jimmy to stay at his for a few days. Their worlds colliding may leave their own lives messier than ever.
This is a stark production – no interesting costumes, large cast, or special effects to be found. Instead the mood, tone, and atmosphere rests entirely on the backs of the two actors. And even then they never directly interact with one another until the very end. The idea here is that Jimmy and Corgan recount to the audience their own version of the events transpiring. It’s a great source of comedy – if Corgan sees a pretty lady at the club he’ll excitedly tell us that she is only “one step out of his league” while Jimmy wearily insists to us that she is “three steps out of his league”. Not only is it funny but it’s a sly way to develop these characters – what they don’t say reveals just as much about them as what they do say in their mesmerising recounts. Chris Isaac and Jeffrey Jay Fowler are masterful performers; they can slip into depressed, funny, selfish, and even downright lovely without missing a beat or throwing the whole delicate enterprise off into a tonal nightmare land.
Fag/Stag was a heartwarming surprise – who knew that Donkey Kong of all things could be used as an elegant metaphor for life and friendship? Who knew that a couple of guys and not much else could so captivate and audibly move an audience? It’s a beautiful and sometimes terribly funny, sad and real slice-of-life theatre from this immensely talented writer & performer duo.
You only have one more night to see Fag/Stag at the Subiaco Arts Centre.
For tickets, check out: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=FAGSTAG16