It sounded like a great idea for a play when composer David Page was interviewed by the Star three years ago, although the focus then was about his latest work for Bangarra Dance Theatre.
Chatty and disarming, Page said he grew up alongside 11 siblings: a tough childhood in the suburbs of Brisbane. He found solace in backyard theatrics, then won a talent contest and got signed to Atlantic records.
Little Davey Page became a minor celebrity and earned a guest spot on Countdown and The Paul Hogan Show -“ the host of which he kicked in the shins.
But his voice broke, so Little Davey grew up and eventually came out, with the support of his ridiculously talented siblings (such as Bangarra guru and Adelaide Festival director Stephen Page).
In addition, Page was kidnapped by his aunt and helped create sections of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics.
But with David on the line, mid-rehearsals at Belvoir, it’s clear his current challenge is more frivolous -“ the dramatising of his brief career in drag.
The dress is fantastic. It’s fabulous. And I’ve got a choice of two, so that’s good, we’ve got a back up. That’s a bit relieving, he says.
He’s laughing now, but Page says the process isn’t easy.
When I was asked by Stephen to do a one-man show I was quite reluctant. There’s not really that much to tell. I’m only 43, he says.
At the end of the day it’s not really about you -“ it’s about all these people who are a part of your life. And that’s what I’m featuring, my family, all these people who make you, who help you along the way, Page says.
The script of Page 8 is the result of six months’ worth of interviews with playwright Louis Nowra – meetings Page describes as psychiatrist sessions (Once you start talking, it triggers off, and dominoes, he says.)
Great stories emerge, but also horrors, including the loss of David’s brother Russell, who took his life two years ago. Writing the script also means collapsing his life into 90 minutes. Page explains some aspects are now placed in startling perspective.
Your whole gay experience -“ you’re telling that in like 15 minutes! In a nutshell! he says. I could have opened it up and did a big number on it, but there was no need to. I accepted it -¦ [and] I was ready to go and continue what I had to do as a person.
There’s time for one more serious question. David Page’s drag name?
Anything you want it to be, depending on how I felt on the night, he says. Delphine was pretty much the name my brother Russell gave me. Delphine -“ who migrated from South America. He used to be my boyfriend -˜Pedro’.
Page 8 opens tonight at Belvoir Street Theatre and runs until 19 September. Phone 9699 3444 for bookings or visit www.belvoir.com.au.