“Isn’t It Queer?” is, as director Alexander Andrews states, “merely a celebration of love.” It does not make any novel sweeping statements, nor does it sanitise the messiness that comes with love: the awkward ‘getting to know each other’ stage, the lovers’ quarrels, and the final goodbyes of a long-term relationship.

What separates this show from others is that it recontextualises the tropes and archetypes and lets queer actors tell the story.

The set is understandably minimal. The word ‘queer’ in black block letters, outlined in a copper-like brown, acts as a backdrop. Two red three-seater benches are on either side of the middle of the stage. A section for the musicians is to the side: a stool for the violinist, and a bench and keyboard for the pianist.

As the actors walk on stage, the colour palette is apparent: black, white, and red. Most props and costume details are red or white. The actors are dressed in all-black. It can be argued that this palette is intentionally chosen to bring out the red: the red of the hats, the red of the cane, the red of the briefcase with ‘just married’ written in white. Before the music starts, you know you’re in for a show about love.

The show is sung throughout, and the vocal performances are deftly executed. The music complements and contrasts the vocals in just the right moments. Sometimes, one song would flow into another to create a narrative.

“My Husband the Pig,” sung by a disdainful spouse, transitions into “Every Day a Little Death,” sung by that same character to illustrate the underlying devotion and commitment they have to their husband.

It’s in sections like that where I am impressed by the complexity of narrative that can be conveyed by putting two songs next to each other.

This humble show is like the light of a single candle in a dark room. It brings hope for more queer narratives to be told onstage; queer narratives that are not about being queer, but just happen to be.

In a market concerned with keeping up with the times, rethinking the basics just might be the next step to true progress.

Understanding that people want to see themselves in stories is the core tenet of creating compelling theatre. “Isn’t It Queer?” understood this and created a show for queer people who want a familiar but engaging narrative told from the perspective of someone who is empathetic to their experiences.

At PACT, Erskineville; April 19 – 23, 2022; 7:30pm

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