Review By Michelle Sutton
Become The One is an award-winning Australian play written by Adam Fawcett and directed by Lyall Brooks. It is an intimate portrayal of a romantic relationship between a closeted footballer and an openly queer man. Set in one location, with just two characters its success rests entirely on the strength of the script and chemistry of the actors. Fortunately, it delivers on both of these fronts, with incredible performances from the cast and some of the sharpest, wittiest and most devastating dialogue I have heard on stage in recent times.
It is easy to see why Fawcett was presented with the 2018 Playtime Award for New Queer Writing when the play first debuted. The two-hander creates a vivid, tangible world through the conversations and interactions of the two characters, Noah and Tom. The play delves deeply and realistically into the themes of toxic masculinity and heteronormativity in sport and the media, offering discussions of substance and complexity. It is refreshing to see a show where such respect is shown for the subject matter and audience that no easy comfortable answers are given; instead opening all the doors to further curiosity and closing none of them. The play is also extremely funny, borrowing tropes from the romantic-comedy genre and applying them in a beautifully modern and sensitive way.
The show is produced by Lab Kelpie, a company that supports and promotes new Australian theatre writers and performed in the Lennox Theatre at Riverside Theatres. The more intimate theatre is perfect for the play as it feels as if the audience is truly perched at the edge of Tom’s apartment living room, right in the middle of all of the action, imposing on the lovers and their privacy. The play runs for 120 minutes with no interval, which feels just long enough to keep the momentum going. Director Lyall Brooks must be commended for the excellent pacing of the show, which allows every scene to feel fresh and surprising. The sound design by Tom Backhaus sustains the intensity of the show between scenes, with music that is unrelenting and does not allow the audience any reprieve from the characters' emotional journey. Chris Asimos as Tom and Mason Gasowski as Noah are fantastic. Gasowski gets the joy of delivering Fawcett’s clever, sarcastic quips and he does so to perfection, with his exceptional comedic timing and vulnerability always receiving a reaction from the audience. Asimos is equally as impressive, drawing the audience into the inner world of conflicted footballer Tom.
Across the board the show pays incredible attention to every detail. It is the epitome of less is more when executed well. The set consists of one chair, a bowl and a lounge covered in fake grass, a nice reminder of the pressures of the outside world creeping in. The way that the actors move through the space makes it feel like a lived-in home, at times an idyllic lovers’ paradise and at others a claustrophobic prison. The haphazard throwing of the keys into the bowl at the end of each day, or lazy grabbing of them whilst running out the door to signal a new day is the perfect touch of humanity and indicates the passing of time of the relationship to the audience.
Become The One is an exceptional show, effortlessly and intelligently oozing romance, comedy and drama and presenting thought-provoking questions on contemporary Australian culture. It is a masterclass in writing and acting that audiences won’t soon forget.
Show is recommended for ages 15+