Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Choir, Above the Stag Theatre

The Choir by Errol Bray
Director: Prav Menon-Johansson
Reviewer: Jaclyn Lord-Purcell

Arriving early for Errol Bray’s play, my friend and I were greeted by a drag queen, a multitude of rainbow flags and countless flamboyant spectators. This is sure to be a good night, I thought. With the scene set, we took our seats.

The theatre itself is horribly small: a ‘black box’, according to my friend. In other words, the actors performed practically on top of the small audience, creating an intimate setting to say the least.

The Choir follows an all-male cast as pre-teen orphans living as friends and foes. The boys’ homoerotic trials and tribulations are the main focus of the production

Heavy topics including, castration, homosexuality and simple ‘screwing’ are discussed, making this show unsuitable for the hyper-masculine homophobe.

Beneath these broad subjects, however, lie other, more intimate ones, such as love, adulthood and power relations; thus making the simple concept of ‘screwing’ much more than what the word entails.
Strong acting and a small-community feel are just some highlights of the production: a breath of fresh air in the ever-so-commercialized London theatre scene. Sure, you could go see Jude Law, Rowan Atkinson and Josh Hartnet, but why bother when you can see something equally as good without all the pomp.

If I had to make one criticism, I would say that, at times, the plot is unrealistic. All characters speak openly about having sex with their male counterparts – even thought they are all meant to be 12 years old (with only one exception). While sex is a fact of life, homosexuality is unfortunately still largely taboo, most especially for males. There is no way so many pre-teen boys would speak and express themselves in such a manner.

Then again, leave six male monkeys together in a cage for long enough and they will resort to sexual acts with one another. Abandon seven young boys together in an orphanage and would the same phenomena occur?

If you’re looking for a little male erotica, mixed with good acting in an intimate setting, this is your best bet. Conservative lovers of football, beer and other things typically male need not apply.
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