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Review: This Genuine Moment at La Mama Courthouse

Review by Lucinda Naughton

After a sold-out season at The Old 505 Theatre in Sydney, This Genuine Moment has come to La Mama Courthouse. The play opens on ‘R’ and ‘L’ sprawled in a bed together on Christmas eve. R can’t remember the previous night and he’s never done this before, while L has a bit more experience with one-night stands. They discuss and piece together the events of the previous night and R reveals his plan to ‘come out’ to his family at Christmas. The new queer play explores topics of family, sexuality, social media and truth in naturalist, humorous and moving ways. It looks at how much easier it can be to be honest with a stranger than with ourselves. This Genuine Moment is the best play I’ve seen this year; from the very first moment you know you’re in good hands. It’s funny, honest and moving, full of real human moments and struggles. This is the kind of theatre I adore.

This Genuine Moment runs for a short and utterly sweet seventy-five minutes. The play is beautifully written by Jacob Parker, directed by Hayden Tonazzi and produced by Rock Bottom Productions. Parker has created a modern queer story of two incredibly strong and rich characters trying to figure out and confront their need for truth. As Tonazzi beautifully articulates in his director’s note, ‘This isn’t queer writing that I was used to. It forgoes camp tropes and sexual humour for awkward and brutal honesty about how we, as queer people, discover the life we want to live.’

The two-hander is brilliantly performed by Tom Dawson and Ilai Swindells. Dawson and Swindells complement each other beautifully on stage, working together so strongly in moments of vulnerability and individually in moments of monologue. They both bring such depth to their performances and the characters are wonderfully contrasted in personalities. They each have monologues during the play and perform them incredibly well, bringing a wealth of reality to the stage that is utterly captivating and moving. Laura Farrell’s vocal coaching shines through. Tonazzi does a terrific job of directing, cleverly using the space and movement in the bed to physically progress the plot of the character-driven play. The rhythm and pacing of the dialogue and physicality are perfected under Tonazzi.

Kate Beere’s set and costume design perfectly capture the tone of the play. The set is simple – a bed and a bedside table that’s wonderfully used for comedic purposes. The bed is central to everything in the story. Aron Murray’s lighting and video design is superb. The video design is an integral element of the play; it’s a great way to reflect the modern experience of a one-night stand and our obsession with social media. The audience can see what the characters were looking at on their phone as both of their ‘screen views’ are projected onto the back wall of the stage. It is a gorgeous design and added so much humour and storyline to the play as well as creating the adorable awkward moments prevalent in the morning after a one-night stand (those moments when we indeed reach for our phones). Parker uses this innovative way to explore relationships and our sense of connection, or lack thereof, within social media. It is also interesting viewing the play post-lockdown, as Tonazzi describes, ‘Being able to revisit this piece in a post-lockdown world, it is clear to us that connection is vital to the way we grow as people.’

I often say this in my reviews of plays at La Mama, but the intimate space complements the play so well. The vulnerable material the two characters explore on stage is heightened in the proximity and the audience help create such a wonderfully warm atmosphere, an experience that is a joy to be a part of. And it was great to see the theatre so packed with an excited audience now that restrictions have laxed.

This Genuine Moment is an absolute wonder to watch; an incredible performance that I highly recommend.

Image Credit: Darren Gill

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