Exclusion: Sex, love and politics
Local Canberra playwright and director, David Atfield delivers yet another exceptional play. It's a heady ride of sex, love and politics. It was with much excitement that I ventured out to see David Atfield’s latest play, ‘Exclusion’, at the Street Theatre, in Canberra.
There are posters for the production all over town featuring a ripped hunk and the Parliament House, including at the cafe where I take my mum. It’s an impressive juxtaposition and one that I haven’t seen before - and so I was more than enthusiastic to discover just what was in the box!
It also was my first David Atfield play, a local queer writer/director who’s earned a loyal following for his productions including 2014’s ‘Scandalous Boy’. He’s a talent who, by all accounts, deserves more national recognition and perhaps this is the play to do so.
‘Exclusion’ is set just a few short years ago during the stifling period when the national debate was obsessed with Safe Schools and what Marriage Equality means for the ‘poofs’.
It follows the story of a cute, young, gay media advisor Craig Morrow (played by Ethan Gibson) who works for ruthless wannabe PM, Jasper Ferrier, (played by Craig Alexander). Jasper is locked into a battle for the top job with a nice-guy politician, Michael Connor (played by Michael Sparks), who himself is stuck in a sexless marriage with a religious-conservative wife Caroline (played by Tracy Bourne).
Unbeknownst to Jasper’s wife, Jacinta (played by Fiona Victoria Hopkins), Craig and Jasper have been having a lengthy and passionate affair, which spells ‘L-O-V-E’ for Craig but just dispensable fun for the manipulative, narcissistic Jasper.
Later, we discover that Craig and Jacinta also have some serious form of their own - while nothing is quite what it seems for any of the characters.
Featuring the music of the Pet Shop Boys and Troye Sivan, ‘Exclusion’ is unmistakably a ‘gay play’ for queers young & old. But it’s one that will also hold appeal for mainstream audiences that are keen for a peek inside both the world of politics and the closet that Jasper inhabits.
As he oscillates from being a bully to the camp caricature that he frequently denigrates as ‘real gays’, Craig Alexander shows a great swagger and versatility in portraying Jasper. Ethan Gibson nails the ambitious but naive media advisor Craig, and conquers the braver scenes with aplomb, while Fiona Victoria Hopkins completes the love-triangle with spunk and raw power as Jacinta. She’s a character who becomes more intriguing with each passing scene and leaves you wanting more.
Meanwhile, Michael Spark’s portrayal of Michael Connor brought a warm humanity to the drama and a reminder that there’s much more to people than what shows on the surface. Tracy Bourne did such a good job of playing his wife Caroline - the archetypal enemy of the queer community - that it’s hard to imagine that the actress herself could be anything but a buttoned-up conservative nightmare.
With its strong cast, frequent camp humour and more twists and turns than the Snowy Mountain Highway, ‘Exclusion’ made for an excellent night out at the theatre and will surely be the first of many David Atfield productions that I witness.
And for all of those left wondering: yes, there was quite a bit of nudity…. But unlike the politics in Canberra, it’s done tastefully. Far more tastefully, in fact.
Written Danny Corvini for FUSE Magazine.
Exclusion is playing now at The Street
From David Atfield, the award-winning creator of ‘Scandalous Boy’, comes an explosive new play that looks at the post-marriage equality political world and questions just how welcome LGBTIQ people really are in the corridors of power.
For some politicians sexuality is just another game…
Canberra 2018. As a debate rages over a proposed education program to teach children about sexuality, two male federal ministers are contending to become Prime Minister. But they both have secret lives that threaten to destroy their careers. When a handsome young staffer enters the scene their worlds descend into a whirlpool of hypocrisy, blackmail, deception and sexual intrigue.
‘Exclusion’ is a sexy, funny, moving and wildly sensual play combining the complexities of human sexuality with ambitions for power. We see politicians stripped naked, literally and spiritually, as the characters betray, expose and manipulate each other, identities tumble, marriages fall and alliances break. The play is about the complex intersection of the personal and the political, woven into a universal story about the personal compromises we all make in the pursuit of our careers.
‘Exclusion’ will be the talk of the town this November and a theatrical event not to miss!
Playing at the Street Theatre
November 9 to November 17
Bookings: 02 62471223