Mardi Gras Fag Stag Theatre Review

Joseph Lloyd
20th Feb 2021

Do gay men and straight men need each other to function in everyday life?

A charming tale that lifts the veil on the dynamics of cross-orientation friendship. Fag Stag brings an honest portrayal of the contemporary male finding it’s humour in the contrasting interpretation of events from the two perspectives of its principal gay and straight characters.

A simple set design that’s illuminated at times in amber and blue hues for some deep emotional moments, newcomer Ryan Panizza’s portrayal of homo-archetype Jimmy, is nicely complemented by Samson Alston’s, hetero-delta, Corgan. Panizza’s raunchy tonality and dramatic embellishments of the gay life experience are rounded off by Alston’s boyish camaraderie. The script only lightly sketches the history between these two old friends relying on the odd yet fitting dynamic to deliver its clever wisecracks.

This light-hearted story about two male friends soon to be attending a mutual friend’s wedding dabbles with topics of self harm, but in retrospect served no real purpose to the story which was already ocean’s above the typical “fag hag” stereotypes you’d expect in a comedy like this.

As the script swings between verbal-acrobatics of comedy and monologues of torment, Panizza and Alston articulate the tension and unpack the real issues around a friendship like this in a jam packed 60 minutes of one liners, sarcasm and humour filled storytelling.

From assumptions of gay men’s lifestyles, to alpha male politics, non-gay friends being dragged into the world of homophobia just for being friends with a gay person, gaming and relationships, ideas are presented we can all relate to, leaving us plenty of room to ruminate on them without being told what to think.

Fag Stag takes us through the highs and lows of life, highlighting the differences in perspective, approach, communication styles and priorities of today’s gay and straight man. Yet somehow, subtlely, almost couches the question of whether gay men and straight men need each other to function and navigate the intricacies of life.

Is there something to be learned from one another when really working at a plutonic and genuine friendship like the one depicted here? After Jimmy’s (Panizza) break up with his boyfriend, he wants to stew in the drama of the post break up waiting for his mate to ask all about the nasty details but is met by Corgan’s (Alston) seemingly calm and collected “OK Cool” one word responses who thinks his friend just wants “him to be there” and not be bombarded with questions. It’s little moments like these peppered through the story that show us the kind of friendship very rarely seen anywhere else and very interesting to observe on stage.

The very definition of success and love is a hot mess for any man, laden with regret of the past and fear of the future. Fag Stag offers no solution to the big questions it raises, but reminds us no matter what app we are using, whether its Tinder or Grindr, we’re all looking for someone to swipe right, but it’s our mates that will carry us through after every one has left.

A great feel good show to enjoy this Mardi Gras season that offers a nod to the friendships of allies and today’s post marriage equality gay man.

Fag Stag is performing at El Rocco Potts Point until 7 March.