Javeenbah Theatre Company’s production of The Boys In The Band is monumental. For a small, local community theatre company to take a chance on an iconic queer play from the 60s is almost unheard of. And yet, Javeenbah did exactly that! The result is a smashing success; a brilliantly poignant creation leaving the audience utterly gobsmacked.
Written by Mart Crowley and making its original premiere off-Broadway in 1968, The Boys In The Band broke new ground; with some critics even crediting it with sparking the gay rights movement. The play follows a group of gay men as they gather for a birthday party in New York City. Exploring some very personal topics such as homophobia, religious guilt, self-loathing and the experience of coming-out, The Boys In The Band was a revolution in the portrayal of gay life and the inspiration for two feature films.
The set design, created by director, Jake Goodall, is simple yet effective. Building the world of Michael’s New York flat in classy black and white on a two-tiered stage featuring a bedroom, a bathroom and a living room; complete with posters of Hollywood icons from the era and a dedicated downstage corner for the phone (which becomes a centrepiece of the action in the second act). The props created by Faith Moore-Carter and Madeleine Muller are iconic; from the bowl of lettuce consisting of green feathers to the period-appropriate telephones. The lighting and sound by Colin Crow perfectly supports the action on the stage without feeling intrusive or distracting.
Javeenbah Theatre Company’s rendition of The Boys In The Band is directed by Jake Goodall, supported by Amelia Morris and Faith Moore-Carter as Assistant Directors. Jake is a wonderful director whose passion for the play shines through in his interpretation. Jake’s clever staging places the nuanced dialogue in the spotlight; just as it should be. The staging is simple; spread across two tiers, the blocking feels natural and the characters move with intention. The Boys In The Band would not have been the success that it is without Jake’s vision for the show. Despite remaining true to the original context and time period, the direction still manages to tease out modern themes; serving as a stark reminder that many issues we might consider to be the past are still pervasive today.
The strength of this production, however, lies in the immensely talented cast. From the moment he steps onto the stage, Ricky Moss draws the audience into the world of Michael. Ricky is a fantastic actor who manages to create a Michael who is so much more than just a stereotype. Ricky’s interpretation of Michael is extremely nuanced; from the happy-go-lucky party host to the deeply self-loathing man burdened with an immense religious guilt. Ricky is an absolute standout of this production.
Clay Carlaw as Donald has an understated seductive energy that makes him the perfect counterpart for Michael. Clay’s portrayal is subtle, perfectly capturing the heart of a very complex character. Despite not having a lot of dialogue, Clay’s characterisation is spot on; authentic and genuine from the get go.
Beau Frigault’s arrival as Harold is spectacular. Another standout of The Boys In The Band, Beau delivers a performance so engaging that, despite the character’s bitterness, the audience can’t help but love him. As Harold, Beau is sassy yet cynical, fabulous yet depressed. His acting is subtle and complex, humanising the stereotype and forcing us to look beyond it.
As Emory, Dylan Pereira is an audience favourite. Injecting some much-needed humour into the action, Dylan’s portrayal is fantastic. But the magic of Dylan’s performance lies in his ability to subtly create a character who, despite being a bit of a class clown, is so much more than that. Anton King’s Bernard is perfectly dorky. Anton is a strong actor able to blend well yet shine when he needs to. As Bernard, Anton’s chemistry with Dylan’s Emory is palpable.
Jasper Jacavou Johnson serves up a flirtatious Larry. Jasper’s performance is flawlessly catty and his bickering with Hank is on point. Mitchell Spence delivers a perfect serious Hank; the ideal counterpart to Larry. Together, Jasper and Mitchell create the very image of the squabbling couple that the audience can’t help but root for.
As Alan, Adam Hellier is tremendous with a wonderful stage presence. Creating a character who is deeply disturbed and hiding underneath many layers of subtext can be tricky but Adam pulls it off with ease. Last, but certainly not least, Oskar Apps-Perry delivers a stunning performance as Cowboy; a lighthearted portrayal that still manages to challenge preconceived notions of sex workers; pushing the audience to confront the human beneath the label.
All in all, Javeenbah Theatre Company’s The Boys In The Band creates something truly remarkable; challenging us to look beyond stereotypes, to see the deeply human side of every single one of the characters. This show is tremendous and absolutely anyone who loves the theatre should see it. Javeenbah Theatre Company has delivered a community theatre offering that goes far beyond expectations. Clever directing and an excellent cast make this show a stunning success. Bravo!
Tickets are still on sale for this weekend here so get in quick!