Review: Straight at Nash Theatre

By Josie Montano & Robert McLachlan

Nash Theatre’s fourth production for 2019, is an award winning stage play written by American authors, Scott Elmegreen and Drew Fornarola. The play, only written three years ago was a huge success off-broadway - a love triangle consisting of two males and one female with the complexities of modern relationships.

With only three characters to follow within roughly a six month period of time, we are introduced to the central character - twenty-six year old Investment Banker Ben, who is conflicted about his sexual orientation and preferences. He seems to be a stereotypical male who likes footy, beer and his girlfriend …. but also his new male friend, Chris! His girlfriend Emily, who he has been with for five years is pushing Ben to move their relationship to the next level. This is complicated by Ben’s affair with Chris, who he considers as his on-again, off-again boyfriend. The storyline revolves around the ensuing complications arising from these modern and edgy relationship issues, and Ben’s fumbling attempts to resolve them.

In his notes, the Director Phil Carney, talks about how the play questions moral values and sexual identity, and it is obvious that Phil feels passionate about bringing attention to these issues via the medium of the stage. With only three characters to work with, the challenge is to keep the plot moving and to ensure that the play is dynamic throughout. With a few minor tweaks, we feel that the goal can be achieved. As this can be quite a heavy topic to deal with, the playwrights have intertwined humour in order to lighten the overall mood. Frequent blackouts were required throughout the play in order for the players to change and to delineate the passage of time - while most of these were kept to a minimum, some appeared longer than necessary and therefore broke the continuity of the story.

Ben, Emily and Chris were played by actors Tyler Harris, Betsy Applehof and Matt Steenson respectively. As their relationship developed, the characters of Ben and Chris showed great chemistry. As per the storyline the relationship developed from shy awkwardness initially into a blossoming and familiar love. This three character drama reflects on 21st century world conflicts some men may have with identity, labelling and sexuality. The performance may be challenging to some audiences and there are soft-sex scenes between same sex actors.

The extra bonus of attending opening night at the Nash Theatre is that post show, the Nashies, AKA wonderful Nash Theatre volunteers and members lavished the audience with a luscious supper including bubbles where audience members and cast mingled to chat and continue the conversation off-stage.

Straight is a must see contemporary play, even witty at times, the twist at the end will leave you with very mixed, possibly confusing emotions. We highly recommend you catch this thought provoking evening at the licenced Brunswick Room, Merthyr Road Uniting Church, New Farm before their strictly limited season ends on the 19th October.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.