FESTIVAL REVIEW: Play reading Party Boy Teachers Club Sunday May 13th
I dashed up O’Connell St. and stopped for an ever-present donut (crème-filled toffee with crumbles!) and coffee. I love going to Teachers (I’ve had a few shows there over the years). It’s a Georgian building with a black box theater in the basement, meeting halls and classrooms on the first floor, and a gorgeous bar on the second floor.
Near the top of the building, a couple dozen of us crowded into a meeting room for what was literally a table read: the actors sat behind a wooden table, and after a brief introduction by Brian, started reading the script.
I’m a fan of Brian Merriman the playwright, and have enjoyed his work, which frequently has a historical bent (“Eirebrushed,” “Wretched Little Brat”). This one is a departure for him. Inspired by a true story, “Party Boy” is the tale of a little gay boy who grows up in Dublin and Australia, and whose life and interests lead him into a career as a phone sex operator, a gym rat and trainer, and finally as a go-go boy and performer in live and filmed sex shows.
We’ve all seen the plays and read the books that tell and re-tell this story: most often they are morally superior, cautionary tales of young men gone astray and whose lives end all too soon because of an excess of everything, especially drugs. What makes this story different is that the boy has a mother who gives him unconditional love; she always takes him in when he comes home, and serves as both anchor and guide to him.
Party Boy faces not just the generalized homophobia of his home countries and communities, but also the approbation of a sex-negative society that lives to vilify sex workers (while always partaking of their services).
In a country and culture shaped by Catholic guilt and shame, Party Boy mostly takes to other countries to make a living, find companionship, and look for what he needs (which he doesn’t even know most of the time.)
Brian had hoped to stage the show this festival, but in real life, he had a hard time finding actors who were not afraid to take on a role that might carry such a weight of disapproval from the public. Delicate, toxic masculinity kept actors from playing an amazing role, actors who gave all kinds of reasons, except that they were afraid of it.
Brian read the role of Party Boy himself, with Maria Blaney playing the Mother, and Colin Malone playing all the other parts. (He f*cking nailed it, as we say in the theater.) Lia Caira did stage directions.
The reading kept us rapt, and it was real, urgent applause that erupted at the end. I’m sorry it’s not a full production in this festival. I know it will be seen, not just in Dublin, but other places. (I have my thoughts on its next steps, but never give critique unasked.) KW
Kathleen Warnock is a renowned playwright and theatre producer based in New York.
The second half of our programme, designed to celebrate 25 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland, sees plays covering a range of topical issues; from historical LGBT figures, visibility, the Trump era, bisexuality, surrogacy and alcoholism are packed into Week Two of a most innovative programme of theatre that makes Dublin the leading international centre in the world.
‘Tab and Landon’ from Canada is a dark and adults-only insight into scandalous family relationships arriving from Theatre Outré, Canada.
‘Women’s Shorts’ features a trio of powerful and funny pieces about LGBT women. The hilarious ‘Butt Trumpet’ (USA) reveals some unusual ‘talents’ of Trump’s former spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway. ‘Cherry Pickings’ (UK) follows queer women on a night out and ‘Unseasonable’ (USA) explores the aftermath for two women of a mysterious incident.
“Memories We Lost in the Fire” (UK) and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” (Ireland) both explore young gay/bi men on a journey to understand their sexuality.
Renowned lesbian playwright, Carolyn Gage’s insight into Marty Mann, founder of the National Council on Alcoholism premieres from the USA in “Easter Sunday” (running in a double-bill with lesbian relationship comedy “The Christmas Drill”)
Irelands Blue Heart Theatre Company premieres ‘Passing On’ a story of surrogacy, family and choices as a gay couple’s plans to have a child are thrown off-course by a shocking revelation.
This week also presents an opportunity to see “2 HIStories” a duet of short stories from festival founder and artistic director Brian Merriman, exploring Irish life in the 1980s and UCD founder Cardinal Newman’s lifelong friendship with Fr Ambrose St John.
Our main programme starts with €10 Monday matinees at 2:30pm and 4pm.
See the following tomorrow (matinee & evening) with more shows starting on Friday:
Be inspired, moved and entertained with stories from around the world, all for amazing value!
The Drowning Room – a family gather to remember the victim of a ‘gay bashing’. But unexpected events lead to dark secrets being revealed. A powerful drama with a twist.
Ginger Beer – a frank and funny comedy about the perils of being a gay man in 2018 – Grindr, saunas, chemsex… and the perfect dick pic.
3 Lies About Brooklyn – shipped as a baby by Irish nuns to Brooklyn in the 1950’s, John Farrell tells his extraordinary true story of search for his true identity and sexuality.
Let Me Look At You – a 50-something gay man shares his misadventures in this comedy drama from the UK.
Breda’s Way – lesbian comic Breda Larkin investigates ‘the moving statues’ of summer 1985 in a humorous exploration of gender, faith and life in Ireland.
Writers in the Stars – Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare and Mary Shelley debate ‘who is the greatest’ in heaven. A comedy drama with LGBT twists!
Men’s Shorts – 3 short comedy plays – gay dating, wedding mishaps and a “straight” mate with a secret!
SMASHES – an award-winning comedy about bi visibility past & present – coming out, making out & getting inspiration from a past feminist heroine.
Beloved Sinner – relive Oscar Wilde’s last days in Paris in this captivating piece.
Our main Box Office will be closed on Bank Holiday Monday (to re-open on Tues May 8th). It is also open on Saturday May 5th.
Tickets will still be available: