Almost a butterfly
In another life, or perhaps yet in this one, English playwright, Patrick Cash, might well be a short story writer. In a series of six short pieces grouped together under the title “Queers,” Cash offers a clever, and often moving, interrogation of various aspects of the gay lived experience. If there’s unquestionably a literary edge to Cash’s language in places, Cash knows how to tell a story and how to put it on the stage immersed in the immediacy of theatre. Cohesion and balance may be off overall, with some stories working incredibly well while others less so, and it all might not pull together at the end as effectively as it could have, but “Queers” is still a heartfelt delight, showing a depth and breadth that borders on vision.
From stag nights in Prague to the Celine Dion loving Patricia, vegan lesbians to ageing activists, Muslim chemsexers to homeless butterflies, “Queers” interrogates the then and now of the gay experience with a deft touch and genuine sensitivity. At its best, as in the story of young barman Danny, and the ageing activist Tom, “Queers” goes to some brave and interesting places, in this case challenging the arrogance and ageism some of the current generation display, and their lack of respect, remembrance or recognition towards their history, and towards those who fought for their rights. Yet the whole is ultimately not as successful as its individual parts and attempts to unify “Queers” at the end, giving it some much needed cohesion, come too little, too late. In what is arguably “Queers’” least engaging story, “Queers” strives a little too hard and obviously for its big finish and pride moment, which it doesn’t quite deliver. In the end, you’re left feeling like you’ve binge watched your way through your favourite TV series, lingering a few episodes longer than you should have, just so you could catch the end which didn't quite deliver as well as it could.
Director Peter Darney does an excellent job capturing the energy within Cash’s script, but endings don’t always land as powerfully as they might on occasion, and untidy transitions between stories feel flat at times. In the absence of a programme it’s impossible to properly acknowledge the ensemble, particularly those who had those extra special moments, including the elder Tom, the lothario Larry and the fabulous Patricia. Nor is it possible to credit the creator of a subtle, if a little too silent at times, soundscape, which added layers and texture to proceedings.
Smart, sassy, and sexy, "Queers," at its best, is a thought provoking interrogation of the gay experience, mindful of its history, subtlety and richness. There are many good things here, maybe too many good things. Yet with not enough to weave these mostly strong stories into the cohesive whole Cash seems to be striving for, an opportunity is lost. Alone, they're like individual fingers, yet there's a sense Cash wants to bring them together into an irresistible fist. It’s an easy fix, and one hopefully Cash will attend to. For “Queers” may be cheap, but it’s a cheap that becomes its very own expensive. It may be raw and loose around the edges, but it's overflowing with heart and soul. There’s a butterfly here trying to emerge. Were it to find its wings, it could soar to amazing heights.
“Queers” by Patrick Cash, directed by Peter Darney, produced by Em-Lou Productions and Dragonflies Theatre, runs at The Players Theatre as part of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival until May 13th
For more information, visit IDGTF