Saturday, 29 September 2018

Twink Ascending - Melbourne Fringe Festival review

Image result for twink ascending
The modern gay man. Who is he? In his Melbourne Fringe Festival show, Twink Ascending, writer and performer Andy Johnston goes on a mission to uncover what it means to be a gay man today. Through a variety of theatrical styles, Johnston shines a light on issues such as body image, relationships, sex, and of course, dick pics.

The set and costume design by Dann Barber add a camp sci-fi dance floor aesthetic to the performance, which fits in nicely with the opening moments of the show. Curled up on the floor in the foetal position, Johnston is eventually born into a queer world and bombarded with catchphrases and comments you would come across on online dating apps.
 
Twink Ascending provides us with an insight into the many aspects of Johnston's life that form his identity, both in and out of the gay community. He goes to gym and works out, he is a performer, he is a singer and he is a drag artist. His act with an imaginary drag queen shows off his muscular physicality and agile movement and is also a nice play on the contrasting ideas between masculinity and femininity within the community. 

Through these explorations, the show results in being quite a personal piece, but there are  instances when the direction and dramaturgy don't seem to support this. Audio recordings of Johnston's thoughts are played out to the audience while he transitions into the next act but speaking these aloud - even as he is getting ready - would have assisted in forming an intimacy with his audience. In his mission to discover what defines a gay man, Johnston goes through a number of experiences, including agonising over whether the shorts he is wearing will make him look incredibly attractive, and then lying in bed alone, on his phone chatting to people on social apps. These are nicely executed, but they are only looked at on a surface level and no strong correlation between them is made.

It is difficult (maybe even impossible) to define a certain community, particularly as something as broad as the gay community, but Twink Ascending does a formidable job in highlighting the more obvious ones with flair and with originality. To leave a stronger impression on audiences, Johnston would have been better to focus his attention on fewer themes but go deeper with them and see how these have impacted him specifically.

Click here to read my interview with Andy Johnston.

Show Information

Venue:
The Meat Market, 3 Blackwood St, North Melbourne.
Season: 
Until 29 September | 8:30pm
Length:
60 minutes
Tickets:
$26 Full | $22.50 Conc

Bookings: Melbourne Fringe Festival

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