Melbourne playwright and actor Kevin McGreal will present a love letter to the glory days of clubbing this Mardi Gras with Nightlife.

The show, written specifically for Mardi Gras, will be performed at the Oxford Hotel’s Underground Bar, the real-life club setting bringing further legitimacy to the on-stage action.

“The bar is open and the club is in full swing, so that environment becomes part of the theatre, removing the fourth wall that keeps the audience bound to theatre conventions,” McGreal told the Star Observer.

“I once did a show set in an actual car, where the audience jumped in the back and I won a Fringe Festival award and got glowing reviews. I took that as a cue to explore theatre outside normal conventions, because audiences love it as well.”

McGreal started his clubbing days in the ’80s, a time when “artists and edgy fashionistas dominated, Valium was crushed in champagne and gender bender queens were the club stars”.

McGreal will be joined on stage by Dallas Dellaforce, Grant Morrissey and Joanne Saunders, the cast performing vignettes that depict the outrageous characters who frequent queer clubs. He said he used memories of his own earliest clubbing experiences to flesh out these characters.

“I’m not sure what to make of the motley collection of clubbers nowadays but in the golden days of clubbing, it was a safe space where the gays could be themselves and reinvent themselves. It was a period where people rebelled against the mainstream norms and embraced individuality, diversity and acceptance. It was a celebration of misfits.”

McGreal also took inspiration from an unlikely source — the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, long cited by religious types as an example of the destruction caused by homosexual hedonism.

“Sodom and Gomorrah was the axis on which I created Nightlife. I wanted to take ownership of the Bible story and then turn it around and use it as an affectionate metaphor for gay clubbing culture,” he explained.

“It implies a rebelliousness and confidence that one needs to survive while having a fucking great time!”

info: Nightlife, March 1-3, 7.30pm, Oxford Hotel’s Underground Bar. Tickets through Moshtix.

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