When Brett's aunt Maggie suddenly passes, he and his partner Drew, decide to sell their city dwellings and move to the quaint small town with "no bars, no clubs and no culture", and convert Aunt Maggie's house into a bed and breakfast. Mark Crawford's Bed and Breakfast follows this gay couple over the course of 12 months as they deal with small town mentality and homophobia while trying to renovate their new house and also dealing with the surprises that life often throws at you.
Alex Thew and Ben Noble are masterful as Drew and Brett. They have great rapport with each other and are clearly enjoying being on stage together. They present a couple that have a history as partners and as individuals from the total commitment they give to their characters.
What makes these performances even more remarkable is that Thew and Noble go on to play all the supporting characters, over 20 between them, young, old, male and female, with the same level of respect and authenticity they give to Brett and Drew. Tom Healey's direction further ensures that everyone is treated as an individual with a unique voice, body language and presence, so that even though we have a minimal, nondescript set design, we still get a vivid picture of this town and its residents.
Crawford's script provides many laughs for the audience, including the scenes where Brett and Drew welcome their first guests to their bed and breakfast, reminiscent of some utterly ridiculous Noises Off!-like shenanigans. Crawford also has a knack for providing opportunities for truth and growth for all the characters, including Dustin, the local teen who likes to cook plenty of sweets.
There are some very raw moments in Bed and Breakfast as it explores the trauma of homophobia, gay hate crimes and the difficulties of being accepted and coming out when each day is a reminder of how people can despise you for just being you. Thew and Noble get right to the heart of these scenes and leave us hanging onto every word they say.
There is a perfect balance in Crawford's play of allowing people to laugh while reminding them of the seriousness of the circumstances that a number of characters find themselves in. Fortunately this Australian premiere of Bed and Breakfast also strikes this equilibrium with strong performances by Thew and Noble and assured direction by Healey, resulting in a show that is as funny as it is incredibly touching.
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran
Season: Until 18 September | Thurs - Sat 8:00pm, Sat 2:00pm, Sun 6:00pm
Duration: 120 mins with 15 minute interval
Tickets: $45 Full | $35 Concession
Bookings: Chapel Off Chapel
Image credit: Cameron Grant