It is often rare to watch a play that manages to carefully and intricately weave the nuances of identity, family, and relationships so cleverly together. Sitting in the audience of This Genuine Moment’s opening night, I was delighted to witness such a rarity, especially as an original, Queer Australian play.
Up and coming writer Jacob Parker debuted his play This Genuine Moment alongside director Hayden Tonazzi and actors Tom Hughes and Jackson Blair-West.
The play’s simple setting (strategically put together by Kate Beere), and insightful decision to feature only two characters allowed its themes to shine, which illuminated the progression of L and R’s relationship and identity. Set entirely in R’s bedroom, the message is clear: intimacy and vulnerability are the play’s driving force. Our silent witness of two men awkwardly moving around a lone mattress on centre-stage, without waking up the other made us feel privy to the lives of genuine people.
In their undress, they visibly shift uncomfortably and its messiness echoes the almost universal experience of the morning after a one-night stand. This classic Rom-Com trope usually feels cheap and cliched, especially with the opening dialogue “hey,” but the play’s faithful delineation of the sincerity of its characters, and refusal to simply sugar-coat the scene, reminds its audience of their own authentic experiences.
As the play continued, we learned that R, at twenty years old, is navigating those uncertainties that life is plagued with. Wresting with his sexuality, fear of rejection, and his identity, we get a character who yearns for acceptance from his family, friends, and potential partners. Alongside R and L, we learn that self-acceptance is what we should strive for.
The poignant lines “my sexuality doesn’t define me…but it probably does, doesn’t it?” and “I’ve never really felt real before” contrasted with revelations like “the only thing that stops us from loving ourselves, is lying to ourselves” and “I can love me, and that’s all I really need” developed the sunning characterisation of L and R. The raw intimacy visibly bubbling in the theatre was achieved with witty, insightful, and astute acting and screenwriting. This interpolation is what left its audience with new perceptions about their own identity, relationships, and sense of authenticity in life.
When I sat down with the screenwriter, Jacob Parker, our conversations seemed to centre on one main thing: self-discovery.
The rawness of This Genuine Moment’s setting visibly portrayed L and R’s budding relationship and identity. Why do you think it’s easier for these two, who have only known each other for one night, to confess more to each other, than to others?
With a one-night-stand, a stranger, there is less of a pressure to present a perfect front, a front that is dictated by an attempt to please the other person. They’ve woken up, and they’re already undressed. It’’s almost this idea that once you’ve exposed yourself in the physical sense, then an ability to be emotionally vulnerable with someone who cannot judge you any further than the confines of the bedroom and the morning is easier.
There’s this kind of dichotomy between emotional and physical intimacy. Especially when you’re queer.
You spend your whole life building up who you are, or who you want to be, and then when you come out, that sort of destroys that aspect. So you’re juggling who you think you should be, who you are, and who you want to be. It’s this trifecta that impacts self-discovery and identity, and I really wanted to explore that.
Do you think sexuality defines someone more if they don’t identify as heterosexual?
Yeah, absolutely, it’s that ‘otherness.’ There’s a line in the play “my sexuality doesn’t define me…or does it?” and I think that for a long time queer people have been saying “no, this is who I am, and I am this way because of this reason and that reason,” but we’re seeing this big, striking movement of pride and we’re learning that maybe sexuality does define, and there’s a lot of power in that, in owning who you are.
I think some people may have walked out disappointed that the ending didn’t wrap itself nicely with a little bow and picture-perfect kiss. Was it important to you that leaving your audience slightly unsatisfied would maybe get them thinking about human nature instead?
It really was. This isn’t a heterosexual rom-com, I don’t want my audience to stop thinking about the characters’ next moves, as if their union is the only important thing about them. These are clearly two people who shouldn’t be together. This is their moment, and that’s the end of it. I don’t want my audience to be rooting for either of them, or swooning over any of them, I don’t want them to be just characters, they’re meant to be people. People are flawed, and they make mistakes. It’s this genuineness, this authenticity in the human experience I wanted L and R to embody, so yes, it’s important to me that I presented that instead.
Overall, this play was raw, intimate and beautifully executed, and if you were lucky enough to be in the sold out presence of the Old 505 Theatre in Newtown last week, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. This Genuine Moment is the kind of play that leaves you more perceptive about yourself and those around you. Keep an eye out for more works by Jacob Parker if you want to continue being delighted and challenged.
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