Sunday, 8 January 2017

69 Shades of Dramaturgy: Stuart Thomas @ Oran Mor

Meet Aiden, the luckiest gay in G12. Because he’s about to shack up with boyfriend number 69, Marcus! So in time-honoured fashion, Aiden’s going through his phone, getting rid of texts, snaps, numbers, the apps… But there’s nothing like a mammoth deleting session to send a boy down memory lane…

This funny, frothy, fearlessly frank one-man show stars Gary Lamont, BBC’s River City favourite Robbie Fraser (the soap’s much loved gay hairdresser), and is written by Stuart Thomas, ‘one of the best comedy writers the Scottish stage has produced’ (The Scotsman), and the writer behind the smash hits, The Real Hoosewives fae Glesga, Wee Fat Glesga Wedding, and Salon Janette.

Oran Mor, Glasgow from the 8th - 18th February 2017

Obvious one first: what inspired the idea for the script?
My own life. It's the most autobiographical thing I have ever written, although I heavily raided the lives of my friends, both straight and gay, to give Aiden's private life a few more points of interest! But I wanted to say something really positive, and sex-positive, about gay life. But all my plays, even the ones about Glesga hoosewives, are to some extent autobiographical. This one just a little more so.

When we spoke before, you mentioned the influence of Reality TV - will audiences see this influence in 69 Shades?

Not really, other than in the abstract. I think Reality TV has made voyeurs of us all, and Aiden's openness about his sex life maybe owes something to that aspect of our culture. We're all stars in our own lives now, or so we think. Aiden does, that's for certain.

This show is going to the Oran Mor - a little different to the Pavilion, which we chatted about before. Does this impact on your approach to the script?

The play was originally written for a studio theatre space in Dublin, so it was tailored for that smaller, more intimate space. Also, The Pavilion has a very distinct audience, so it's more a case of me having to adapt my style to that venue, as opposed to the other way around. But comedy is comedy. It's all about making people laugh -- and think. So my intentions remain the same, whatever the venue.

A show like 69 Shades is pretty clearly about being gay - how far do you think we have come in the past decade in being able to be so clear about a character's sexual identity, and is there more to be done?

I think we've come a long, long way, but there is always more to be done. Writing this made me face a few of my own demons, in terms of being out and proud. Some of the comments on Facebook (especially in Ireland) made me realize that there's a ways to go, in terms of how problematic a play with a proud gay message still is for some people. 

This is slightly off topic, but worth sharing -- in Ireland, one of the critics (in an otherwise rave review) felt the play was missing a beat. So did I, but I didn't know what it was, but I was determined to find that beat for this Glasgow revival. Then Orlando happened. And as I did my rewrites, I realized that what the play was missing was a moment where Aiden stands up and is truly counted -- where he really owns his sexuality, beyond his sex life, and fuck the bullies past and present. 

That was a moment of revelation for me and I would really like to think that, in some small way, the speech in which Aiden says he's proud of who he is represents its own little push forward in terms of a character -- and a writer -- owning their sexuality.

I assume that the script goes for comedy - from the title, I admit: what attracts you to writing humorously?

It matters to me to make people laugh but not just laugh. Even the title has more than just comic value. Aden's enjoying his 69th relationship and he's sure this is the one, and of course, his desperation ensures that it's not. So there's the pretty low gag there, but also some meaning too. 

For me, real comedy lies in that sweet spot, where people are laughing because it's funny, but also because they feel something too, something universal. That's always been my aim, to make people laugh and feel, and I think the best comedy does that.

The script also has some moments of poignancy too, I hope. It's comedy with a bittersweet undertone, which is always my favourite kind of humour. There's always room for sadness in comedy; that's what gives comedy power... the aftertaste.

1 comment :

  1. I wish I was going to be in Glasgow to see it! Sounds like a great play--funny and timely.