State Theatre Company’s final production of the year, Holding the Man, manages to achieve that highly sort after balance between uproarious comedy and intense drama. Under the direction of Rosalba Clemente, it has you laughing uncontrollably at one point and fighting back tears at another.
Based on the autobiography of the same name, the protagonist, Tim Conigrave (Luke Clayson), guides us through key scenes from his life, particularly those surrounding his relationship with long-time partner John Caleo (Nic English). Clayson and English have a strong chemistry, bouncing off one another in their comic scenes and working within the dramatic aspects of the script to create a relationship which is both believable and engaging.
In multiple supporting roles, ranging from young lads to 1970s hippies, disapproving parents to doctors and NIDA students, Catherine Fitzgerald, Geoff Revell, Ellen Steele and Nick Pelomis all provide effective, quality performances. Before the audience’s eyes they slip from one character to another and manage to make each distinct, recognisable and have impact. As an ensemble they inject humour into the roles while also creating characters which are genuine.
From a design perspective, the show is all quality. The set (Morag Cook) is sparse but interesting, with its simplicity enabling quick transitions between the many scenes, ensuring that the pace of the play is not hindered. The puppetry utilised (designed by Stephanie Fisher) adds a quirky, yet moving element to the show. The overall effect is completed with atmospheric music and lighting (Stuart Day and Mark Shelton respectively).
This play gives an insight into one man’s life. It shows the fun he had, the struggles he went through and the love he felt. It also gives an intensely moving picture of the broader impact of a terminal illness on life and relationships. It is what theatre is meant to be – charming, entertaining and emotive.
Kryztoff Rating: 5K
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