by Ian Anderson
In its initial workshop run, Goldilocks and the Three Queers made for an unforgettable night out. There’s maybe a bit of chaff to cut, with the play running overlong in a packed Fringe season, but the wheat makes for delicious brownies. Definitely worth catching on its return season at BATS.
Goldilocks is the second in a trilogy of fairytales, devised by theatre company Short Term Visitor Parking. The first instalment, Hansel und Gretel, interpreted Hans Christian Andersen’s famous tale as a Nazi parable. This one gives us a potted history of the ‘70s gay liberation movement, with a dash of ‘80s (AIDS, cocaine, paranoia) thrown in for good measure.
The production is uniformly excellent, with set designer Fern Karun milking the unusual venue for all it’s worth. In a cramped building next door to a strip club, cantankerous landlord (landlady?) Ling Ling guides the audience into an intimate 1970s basement pad, where couches and beanbags await. Divider screens serve as changing rooms, and funkadelic music-man Tane Upjohn-Beatson sits in full view of the audience. We’re accepted as guests in the rented abode of an unconventional nuclear family; the Queers.
The Queer family lives in San Francisco, February, 1970 – mere months after a series of demonstrations against state repression, known as the Stonewall Riots, kicked off the gay liberation movement. However, as the programme reminds us, “This show is no history lesson, this is a fairytale.”
The cast plainly had fun devising, while director Adam Donald does an admirable job holding the lunacy together. Chris Tse makes a lasting impression in his brief appearances as Ling Ling, landlord/lady/other; Simon Leary is admirably camp as wide-eyed chicken Baby Queer; Martine Gray throws herself unabashedly into the role of Momma Queer; and newcomer Bronwen Pattison holds her own as bible-bashing intruder Goldilocks.
But Roger Johnson is the showstopper as Papa Queer, the charismatic old daddy bear who runs the household, dodging rent payments with panache. After years honing his talents at Christmas parades and street festivals, Johnson knows how to get an audience going. His creation, Papa Queer, is perfectly formed and strangely attractive. Portentously described as “Jesus reincarnated in homosexual form,” Papa runs a series of increasingly absurd, undemocratic political meetings.
Yes, Goldilocks and the Three Queers doesn’t just throw a party for its audience, it also delivers a solid warning again cult sectarianism – both religious and political. It’s not subtle. Plays containing hefty wooden crosses rarely are. But it’s an apt message, delivered straight from the 20th century in psychedelic gift-wrap. Can’t wait to see what’s next from this crew.
Goldilocks and the Three Queers
Devised by Short Term Visitor Parking
Directed by Adam Donald
With Bronwen Pattison, Simon Leary, Martine Gray, Roger Johnson, Chris Tse
Performed at The Basement, 39-40 Dixon St Wellington, February 11-20
11 –13, 18 – 20 Feb 2010 The Basement at 39 Dixon Street Book at firstname.lastname@example.org