The first of four works comprising this month’s Subiaco Theatre Festival, FAG/STAG is a brilliant piece of direct storytelling. Jeffrey J. Fowler and Chris Isaacs, local acting and writing stars, took a seat on a minimalist stage and delivered a stunningly accurate snapshot of the life of male millennials. An exploration of the gay/straight friendship between Jimmy (Fowler) and Corgan (Isaacs), each gives their side of the events that follow a wedding invitation from their old friend Tammy.

Jimmy and Corgan are close mates, but they’ve stopped trying. The fact they are stuck on the same level of Donkey Kong is a poignant metaphor for the rut they are in. Unsuccessful in love and in life, like Britney Spears in 2008 their dreams have become a bit of a train wreck. With the patronage of his wealthy mother, Corgan does not have to pay for anything, but when Jimmy discovers self-inflicted razor marks on Corgan’s back, it is clear he still has hidden reasons to hurt. Jimmy breaks up with his boyfriend of one year, but can’t find satisfaction in the arms of others.

Unreliable narrators at best, the two storytellers are rarely on the same page and it is in the disjoint between their conflicting points of view that much of the comedy occurs. Somehow conveying all the action (mostly) without rising from their stools, these heroes of the everyman tell of smashing HJ’s, playing video games, calling their exes and punching darts on the balcony at Connies (Connections Nightclub). Jimmy navigates Grindr with the careless love of Freddie Mercury or Rudolph Nureyev, while Corgan casts a wide, indiscriminate net through Tindr. Fowler and Isaacs turn these pedestrian actions and events into a mirror firmly directed at Perth. Loaded with racy references to gay sex, wanking and more, I can only imagine how the older audience were taking it, though they laughed along well enough.

Fag-Stag (Image by Jamie Breen) (1 of 15)
Image by Jamie Breen

Delivering their writing with superb confidence, I would suggest the work is loosely based on, and significantly exaggerates, the relationship between these two members of The Last Great Hunt. Fowler has a more assured flair, but Isaac’s muted performance is true to character.

A mix of light and shade, the work is tender and raw, hilarious and camp. With few overhead costs, its two stools and lively script make it easily reproducible and tour-ready. Of all the theatre I have had the pleasure of enjoying this year, Monroe & Associates, FAG/STAG and The Great Ridolphi stand a head and shoulders above the rest. Accessible and entertaining, The Last Great Hunt is truly the premiere theatre collective in Perth, and I eagerly await their next work.

Words by Samuel J. Cox

FAG/STAG ran for 4 nights at the Subiaco Arts Centre as part of the Subiaco Theatre Festival.

The other three works to be presented this month are: I (honestly) Love You, Moving On Inc. and Coincidences at the End of Time. You can read our interview with Chris Isaacs here.

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