Courtesy of Suzanne Strong

Holding the Man @ Matrix Theatre

[dropcap size=big]”[/dropcap]Holding the Man” is a well-intentioned and sincere gay coming of age saga set in that tragic era when the devastation of AIDS first fell upon an unsuspecting world. Adapted for the stage by Tommy Murphy, the show is based on the 1995 posthumously published memoirs of Timothy Conigrave, himself a victim of the virus. The story told, unfortunately, is ground that has been well travelled, and better travelled.

It has been said, and said ad nauseam, that drama is life with all the boring parts cut out. Well, those boring parts have found a home with this production.

The play marks the inaugural mounting for the L.A. based Australian Theatre Company. The bad news for them is that this was the wrong show to launch that endeavor. The good news is they can only go up from here.

Nate Jones and Adam J. Yeend play Tim and John, the doomed lovers of the piece, with vim and vigor and little else.

Cameron Daddo, Luke O’Sullivan, Adrienne Smith and Roxane Wilson all undertake multiple roles, yet are little more than speed bumps in the path of the relentlessly monotonous material they face.

Larry Moss’ sturdy direction and Alex “Jϋrgen” Ferguson’s attention-grabbing puppets must cope with the same impediment as the actors, resulting in their contributions having the same impact as taking two aspirins prior to undergoing an appendectomy.

The production is staged with some style and with its thickly layered sentimentality might be suitable as a “date play” for gay men in the same fashion “Last Summer at Blue Fish Cove” by Jane Chambers is for the lesbian community, though the latter is by far the better written show.

This production may also be of interest to any one who is a student of the social history of the gay movement. For me, the play simply felt like algebra homework assigned to someone who had barely squeaked through basic math.


Holding the Man

Australian Theatre Company @ The Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046s
(west of Stanley Ave., between Fairfax and La Brea)

Performances: May 10 – June 29:
Thursday at 8 p.m.: May 29; June 5, 12, 19, 26
Fridays at 8 p.m.: May 30; June 6, 13, 20, 27
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: May 31; June 7, 14, 21, 28
Sundays at 3 p.m.: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

General Admission: $34.99