Thumbs up to the Man! Theatre review

Essay by btransformerB, July 2008

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The play, "Holding The Man" recounts, through a series of episodic scenes tells the story of love between two central characters, Tim (Guy Edmonds) and John (Matt Zeremes). It's set during the 1980s, a time where fear and misunderstanding surrounded the gay scene.

Originally as a book it was adapted by Tommy Murphy from the book "Holding the Man" by Timothy Conigrave and was directed by David Berthold. The text and direction was clever, it included elements of tragedy and comedy. The play deals with love, grief and death. After watching the play I was still left in deep thought and couldn't help but think about the events that occurred. I was left thinking about what love means to me. I admired it very much even though I haven't read the book, so my experience with the circumstances was new, yet I still felt as though I could relate with these circumstancesDuring the play, John remains faithful to his partner Tim.

Tim however is involved in serial of infidelities, which gives him the disease HIV that eventually kills both of them. Together these actors manage to capture a superb, believable and riveting tale. Credit also goes towards the other actors who were bold and creative with their portrayal of characters. Also the comedy element that came from some of the other actors was cartoonish but it worked very well as it gave new dimensions towards the play, making it very interesting.

During Act 1 I did enjoy some of the theatrical aspects of its staging; especially the use of puppets. This created a great sense of atmosphere. The puppet replaced the actor on stage during a death scene The idea was great because it would have been difficult to capture the sickness portrayed, with the use of the actor. It depicts a skeletal and ill person. Grey skin covers the skeleton and the eyes look massive and we hear the arduous breathing of the actor standing next to him. This theatrical technique is astonishing, really capturing the emotion. Clever techniques like this really brought together an interesting experience.

When compared to Act 1, Act 2 felt alot slower. The scenes felt longer as the play developed into a complex plot. I felt that this created as more intense climax.

The audience with me were clearly enjoying the play very much. At the end of the play there was lots of cheering, with even half the audience standing. For mature audiences, "Holding the Man" is a must see!