Coming Out (Chapel Off Chapel) - 120 minutes, plus a 20-minute interval
Showmanship, humour, pathos, anger, overt messaging and song are part of this well-meaning but noticeably stretched offering.
At its core is a gay man, Cole (Stephen Loftus), now comfortable in his own skin, although it wasn’t always that way.
He talks about his school years and coming out to his parents.
And then, after he references a mentor (played by Scott Taylor), the mood of the production quickly changes.
That man, whom he hasn’t seen in six years and who he knew by another name, turns up at Cole’s public cabaret show – the show we, the audience, are watching.
Photos by Sionainne Costello
Even though the pair had a three-year relationship, that man (Simon) has been hiding a big secret.
Truth is, Cole could never understand why their relationship simply stopped, but he is about to find out.
In fact, it is that momentum that propels Coming Out and leads to some fiery and cheeky conversation.
It is the semi-autobiographical work of writer and performer Scott Taylor, with music from Robert Taylor.
This is a production where the adage less is more would have made a world of difference.
Notwithstanding some smart one liners, it felt long … and it was long, reaching the two hour mark, plus interval.
What was said could readily have been pared back by at least half an hour, perhaps even halved, to create a snappy and compelling piece of theatre.
As it was, the cleverness in the plot twist became laboured, even though it picked up in act two, when amusement lifted the mood. Still, the second half also felt bloated.
Nor am I convinced that the cabaret nature of the piece really worked.
The songs could have withdrawn completely and the show wouldn’t have missed a beat. Also, Loftus’ strength wasn’t his singing.
Further, at times, I believe I was being lectured and I thought that was unnecessary, while I noted a few flat patches (silences) in the first act.
I was also concerned that for all the cast’s try hard endeavours, the way some of the dialogue was delivered looked and sounded forced … artificial.
Coming Out features four actors. Those I haven’t yet mentioned are Perri Cummings and Olivia Piplios (the latter filling multiple roles).
In summary, while the premise is unquestionably sound, the execution was left wanting.
I regard Coming Out as a show with promise that needs work.
It is playing at Chapel Off Chapel until 19th February, 2023 (as part of the Midsumma Festival).