Two men meet in a park; a seemingly innocuous Grindr hookup. Except, there’s a wide age gap, and an immediate tension between the two men. The younger Edden (Joseph Althouse) finds the original suggestion to meet pre-hookup amusing and wants to head to a nearby sauna, while Warren (Steve LeMarquand) awkwardly attempts to discreetly take them both back to his hotel. As the two navigate a potential sexual encounter, they inadvertently open a pandora’s box of issues. A straight, conservative family man from the country against a hypersexual queer Indigenous city boy brings discussion of generational norms, drugs, sexuality, double-lives and Sydney. As they push-pull throughout the evening, inner secrets are revealed, leaving each man changed forever.
The backdrop of the play provides a haunting recollection of Sydney’s queer history. The audience sits casually across the lawn eavesdropping on the action though headphones, amplifying every moment and heightening the emotion. The infamous Wall is only feet away, on the way to a once-burgeoning Oxford St. The park’s toilet block is long gone, and its history as a cruising spot is fading. As younger kids turn to the digital realm – out, flamboyant and overtly sexualised – they create their own identities, slowly becoming oblivious to the generations before them.
The play is centred on amazing performances all round, with Althouse and LeMarquand perfectly juxtaposed yet constantly in synch. Althouse’s Edden is a timebomb of insecurity and heady, sexualised anxieties, while LeMarquand is perfectly cast as the closeted father of two.
As human life and interaction becomes increasingly digital, place is no longer central to memory and progress. Where landmarks tell a history of secrets, many of these spaces are left unreplaced.
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Green Park performs at Green Park until January 30, presented by Griffin Theatre Company as part of Sydney Festival.
Image: Wendell Teodoro