It may sound like the opening scene of a particularly implausible gay porno, but it’s actually the plot of Red Stitch’s latest offering, Straight.
“When they’re in the hotel, trying to figure out if they can go through with it, they do mention it sounds like the start of one of those pornos where the guys are straight but they go gay because it’s so naughty, so it’s a bit ‘meta’ that way,” director Dean Bryant (pictured) told the Star Observer.
“But it’s not crass at all…it’s about testing how far you’re willing to go to have a new experience. They choose the most extreme thing they can think of and see if they can go through with it.”
And can they?
“Now that’s giving too much away! I will say this…it goes pretty far.”
The situation is mined for much humour, but readers will be happy to know the laughs aren’t of the gay panic, gross out variety. Rather, the hilarity comes as the two men – straight-laced Lewis and his worldly traveller pal Waldorf – grapple with the situation they’ve committed themselves to.
The DC Moore-penned play takes inspiration from Lynn Shelton’s 2009 American indie film. Much of the original story remains intact, including the duo’s plan to take their home movie to the fictional amateur porno film festival ‘Humpfest’, but it’s been transposed to an English setting for the stage.
“It’s also a lot more of an all-out-comedy, in the tradition of awkward English comedies,” said Bryant, who admitted he was anticipating some nervous laughter from the straight men in the audience as the duo progress towards their hotel room climax (so to speak).
“The two actors we’ve got playing the roles are very nice heterosexual men, who’ll be doing a lot of very intimate stuff together, so some straight guys might find it confronting. Ben Prendergast plays Waldorf – he’s part of the Red Stitch company, and the only actor we got from outside the company is Ryan Gibson [Lewis], who’s been one of Ben’s best friends for many years. They came with inbuilt comfort and chemistry.”
While we hope we’re not assuming too much in saying that sleeping with a person of the same sex ain’t too confronting a thought for much of the Star Observer’s target readership, Bryant said he thought the play would pose some interesting questions for queer audiences.
“There’s definitely homoeroticism there, because they’re both attractive men and there’s a lot of flesh on display. But there’s also the kind of discussion that gay audiences have all had before – what is sexuality? What does it mean to want to sleep with this person or that person?” he said.
“A lot of gay guys struggle with this too, sleeping with each other and with their friends: is the act itself just a physical thing, or will it change your relationship?”
INFO: Straight, Red Stitch Theatre, August 30 – September 28. www.redstitch.net