North Shore audiences have walked out of the Glen Street Theatre in disgust over the so-called gratuitous displays of homosexuality and offensive language featured in Tommy Murphy’s play, Strangers In Between.

Strangers In Between tells the coming of age story of Shane, a 16-year-old boy from Goulburn who escapes to Kings Cross and so begins a journey to become a self-sufficient adult and learn the difference between real companionship and mere sexual intimacy. Coming to terms with his own sexuality is just one element explored in the play, which features one fully covered sex scene.

It was this scene, combined with the use of strong language, which prompted members of the audience to walk out mid-show and inundate the theatre with complaints and calls for more warning in future season brochures.

Glen Street artistic director Rob Robertson told Sydney Star Observer the theatre would consider providing more warning for season ticket buyers in the future, but stands by the decision to program the award-winning play.

It is an incredibly well pedigreed play, Robertson said. It is well written and yes, it does deal with some sensitive matters but it deals with them in a humorous way.

Personally, I really enjoyed it and I think the people who took the time to write letters are the people who left at interval, so they didn’t necessarily get to see how the story develops and understand how the sex is all part of the wider context.

Playwright Tommy Murphy said on the night he attended a Glen Street performance, the audience seemed receptive and that the play had received great support from audiences of all different backgrounds.

The play opened in Queanbeyan, my home town, and I went to see it with my 90-year-old grandmother. She found some of it confronting, in the way that it doesn’t hold back from showing what Shane goes through, but she could appreciate the way it made you laugh and didn’t consider the tone to be deliberately confronting, he said.

It’s hard for me to say how this might impact on my writing in the future but it’s definitely made me think about what’s at the heart of this piece.

Strangers in Between is currently touring the country. It’s playing at the Riverside Theatres, Parramatta, until Saturday 31 May. Then on to the Bendigo Capitol Theatre, on to Ballarat and then to Tasmania. For more info head to www.griffintheatre.com.au.

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