Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Thoughtful examination of our attitudes to homosexuality, who we are and what we stand for.
Conrad Lorenz, in an article in Psychology Today published back in November 1974, noted that you may find a very strong homosexual bond between two male geese, who will behave in many respects like a mating pair. Attitudes to homosexuality were somewhat different 35 years ago but the article goes on to display a pragmatic, if slightly patronising tolerance to the human equivalent of the gay geese. And it’s the issue of tolerance that is central to Anna Forsyth’s “The Gay Geese”.
Matt and Sam are best friends. Like a lot of teenagers, they have dreams of escape, travel and the prospect of many casual, passionate flings. But Matt’s decision to come out results in Sam flipping out, forcing him to reassess their friendship and bringing back unpleasant memories from his past. Turns out there was rather a seismic family event a few years ago, as a result of which he now finds it difficult to relate to his now estranged parents.
There is nothing really new in the tenet of the piece which, in addition to the question of tolerance, also examines the attitude of different generations to homosexuality. But this nicely shaped script raises (and in some cases leaves intriguingly unanswered) some interesting questions about how we sometimes have difficulty in accepting others for what they are and in knowing what we seek for ourselves.
The play won this year’s BBC Playtime Award for a radio play adaptation and, in some ways, I can imagine it working better in that medium than the theatre in which it is now set. Although Euan Forsyth (Matt) and Ross Harvey (Sam) give a passionate expostulation of why they each feel the way they do and how each feels that the other has let them down, the frequent cuts to black as the stage is reset interrupted the overall flow of the piece. And whilst there were a couple of delightful vignettes from Anna Connolly as a tarty teenager and as Sam’s concerned middle aged mother, Miles Garrett (Steve, Sam’s father) again showed the fallacy of having 25 year old males trying to play someone twice their age – it rarely works and didn’t here.
It’s a reflective piece, characterised by the deep emotions on display from the two central characters and is also not without occasional humour and some amusing sexual dubiety. But the flow needs to improve or there is a risk that the audience will lose concentration and start thinking about those gay geese again.