Fag/Stag (Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh)

Posted: August 13, 2017 in Theatre


This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub: http://www.thereviewshub.com

Coming of age stories are fairly common, but they usually feature characters at least a decade younger than the pair in this hour-long duologue from Australia. Fag/Stag, written and performed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler and Chris Isaacs, is a touching bromance, recounting the misadventures of two lads still struggling to come to terms with adulthood at a time when glances in the mirror prompt the words “I’m starting to look old”.

Corgan (Isaacs) gets an invitation to the wedding of his ex, Tamara, to a guy with a limp handshake and he wonders if it should have been him. His best mate, Jimmy (Fowler), also invited, had a week-long fling with Tamara in his teens, but has now just walked out on his long-term boyfriend and wonders if he has done the right thing. They meet to play Donkey Kong, stuck on one level; they pick up casual sex partners in bars, fool around on Tinder and Grindr, get drunk a lot and dabble in drugs. All the time, neither can shake off the niggling feeling that something is missing in his life.

Corgan and Jimmy speak in turns directly to the audience, often giving subtly different versions of the same events. Isaacs’ Corgan has the outer confidence of a guys’ guy who has had it easy in life and with the ladies, but his self-deprecating manner points to inner doubts. Fowler’s Jimmy is slightly flamboyant and more cynical, hardened by the added challenges of being gay. Both are damaged by the choices that they have made.

The performers move the play along at a cracking pace and develop an effortless rapport. The writing is humorous and perceptive, mocking social conventions gently and skating lightly over darker themes. As the big day arrives, Corgan and Jimmy witness the union of a “penguin” and a “meringue” and we, like them, ask whether it is about time for them to grow up, or would they be better off staying the little boys that they are?

Performance date: 10 August 2017

Photo: Jamie Breen

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