Kaleidoscope | Review

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Words || Cameron Colwell

“Nobody realises that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal” – Albert Camus

Kaleidoscope, now showing as part of the Mardi Gras Festival, is at once an embittered polemic on society’s views of trans men and a tender, deeply felt drama about a young adult navigating his relationship with the world. At its heart is a fiery, “Fuck everything,” quasi-nihilistic rage, revealing a refreshing anger that has been missing from a queer theatre scene that all-too-often decides that politics is for other people. Another unfortunate trend it avoids, unlike a lot of mainstream queer media, is sidelining the queer characters and objectifying them as set pieces reacting to the cisgendered heterosexual characters: Kaleidoscope is a one-man play, set in the intimately crafted bedroom of its protagonist, Gabriel.

Gabriel needs to go to work. Later, he is having a coffee with his parents, who refuse to acknowledge his identity. Meanwhile, it is raining, and he is struggling with what to wear. His problems are relayed to us anecdotally, as Gabriel struggles with the trial of finding the energy and mental stability required to get out of bed, into the right shirt, and oto the train for work. While this may sound a bit boring, the stories told by Gabriel: His worrying about whether a man was flirting with him at Stonewall or not, the micro aggressions and gendered language directed towards him at work, and the fond but anxious yearning over Gabriel’s crush. Young actor Oliver Ayres’ frenetic and vulnerable performance finds a perfect match in Charlie O’ Grady’s writing, ensuring Gabriel’s world is as solid and lifelike as his bedroom.

Of course, this is a review and not an advertisement. So, a nitpick is in order: While Gabriel’s voice is mostly endearing and resonant, the monologue has a tendency to slip into a lyricism that comes across as jarring and forced for the majority of the play, until the climactic finish, where the mundane is shunted aside in favour of the existential: “It’s a beautiful world – I just want to be a beautiful part of it,” Gabriel opines, in one of the highlights. However, O’ Grady’s honesty and literary deftness more than make up for the lack of experience felt at some of the script’s messier moments. .

Additionally, Kaleidoscope is that rare thing: A piece of art which restores faith in the idea that works of imagination can have an invigorating effect on the minds of it audience, that they can provoke empathy with people utterly unlike the people in it, and that they can have a real positive effect in the world. Anyone with any pretence, no matter how minor, in being engaged with queer politics or gender politics or even youth culture in this city simply must see this play. I deeply look forward to seeing the future fruits of the talent behind this incredible piece of theatre.

4.5/5

Event Dates: Monday 22nd February – Friday 4th March 2016
Event Times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 7.00pm
Venue: Kings Cross Theatre, Second Floor, Kings Cross Hotel 244-248 William Street, Potts Point, NSW 2011
Running Time: 90 minutes no interval
Ticket Prices: Adult $20.00, Concession $15.00