Review By Kathryn Thomas
Off the back of an extraordinarily successful run for Sydney Mardi Gras, Fag/Stag is back, with a fresh new cast, at the Sydney’s iconic Giant Dwarf Theatre. Heading through the doors of the new home for Giant Dwarf, you are met with an intimate, welcoming space. The set is minimalist, with two chairs and side table against the red curtain. There were some audio level issues in the show which were unfortunately not amended during, but nothing that was a deal breaker. Going into this show without expectation was hard, considering the incredibly positive word of mouth around the previous run, and gladly all expectations were met, and exceeded.
Fag/Stag is a two handed play, about a pair best friends in their mid-20s, finding their feet as young adults. This play is full of extremely rich content around love, substances, sexuality, heartbreak and first and foremost, friendship. Corgan, played by Samson Alston, is the classic upper middle class, straight, white, 20 something, with an aura of privilege around him at all times. Corgan’s best friend, Jimmy, played by Ryan Panizza, is a self-absorbed, but big hearted queer man, exploring his way through life post a recent break up. This duo have an unexpected but incredibly heart warming friendship, that sparks all the type ups and downs of a deep seeded connection.
Written by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, Fag/Stag’s script is a triumph. First and foremost, this play is hilarious, with incredibly well crafted jokes throughout the entire production, which are beautiful complimented by incredibly imagery and poignant storytelling. As this play is a two hander, a lot of description is necessary by the actors, and this is written seamlessly by Fowler and Isaacs, after seeing this play you will reflect and feel as though you were introduced to, and experienced a plethora of different characters, not just Corgan and Jimmy.
Les Solomon, director of this production of Fag/Stag has done a great job with this production, he has utilised the limited space well and created depth with utilising the ledges near the entrance of GD. Solomon has created a stunning bond between his actors, an unshifted and well rounded connection that was evident through the entire production.
Samson Alston, who played Corgan, had the audience on his side from the opening moments of the show. He has a vulnerability and innocence about him, with an incredibly endearing and wholesome nature. Although on paper, Corgan may seem like an a**hole at times, Samson does an exceptional job at showing us Corgan’s true character. Samson handled both the comedic nature of this role, as well as the darker more intrusive moments of Corgan’s story, with ease and comfort.
Ryan Panizza, who played Jimmy, is an absolute natural. With a few opening line nerves, Panizza absolutely found his stride and drove the story with a confidence and charisma that cannot be taught. Jimmy is an incredibly complex character, with façade after façade, but Panizza managed to accurately convey all elements of Jimmy’s character, and never lost the audience while doing so.
Overall, this production was fantastic, truly. Here is hoping that another production of this show pops up soon.
Image Credit to the Show Team