Monday, 28 September 2015

'The Sum of Us' Above The Stag Theatre ****

Being open and dutiful to what your son or daughter wants to do with their lifestyle choices is admirable ; this includes their sexual preferences and the comfortability of it, but fathers are harder to work round compared to mothers and I should know this as this is what happened to me. Above The Stag Theatre’s production of David Stevens’ play, ‘The Sum of Us’ allows us to see how the loving relationship of a father and his gay son in such a touching way, in addition to this, the performances were excellently conveyed.

‘The Sum of Us’ is in a conventional Australian home where are habituated with Harry, a widower explains that his son, Jeff is in fact gay and that he is entirely at ease with his sons sexuality, as well as, he is always mindful that his son doesn’t get hurt by his boyfriends. Jeff, his plumber son is about to venture off to a gay pub in the hope that he’ll find a man that he can love, however, Harry makes sure that Jeff eats as he may make a fool of himself. It seems that Jeff is shy when he’s surrounded by men that he finds attractive, so when he brings gardener, Greg back to his home he endeavours to seduce him in a very romantic manner. Nonetheless, when Jeff knows his sons sexuality, Greg’s parents do not know whatsoever and the interactions between the two are going really well. When Harry accidentally interrupts them in a passionate moment you can see that Greg is given a seal of approval. Unfortunately, something shakes Greg due to the fact that his parents may be informed of his romantic liaison with Jeff, he decided to leave and of course this pain Jeff to the point of tears as he thought something may materialise. Over the course of the performance, we learn that Harry has been seeking a partner on a telephone dating service which transpires with kind and ladylike, Joyce, but Harry has not told Joyce that is son and gay and when Joyce finds some gay magazines and she puts two and two together and is miffed that Harry was not honest with her, she then leaves too.  There is a disastrous turn of events when Harry has had a stroke and is left immobile so when Jeff takes Harry to the park, Jeff realises that Greg works there and when the two meet each other again you can see that they still like each other and Jeff is told that Greg has moved out after informing his parents of his sexuality. At the finale, Jeff and Greg leave Harry for a while to catch up; Harry explains the importance in respecting your sons’ choices and the exultation in Harry’s face when he sees Jeff happy.  Stevens’ narrative is divine as the level of detail in capturing a touching relationship of a father and his openly gay son was particularly pleasant to see as a number of father’s are not so accepting of their sons’ sexuality. 

One found the performances by the company of, ‘The Sum of Us’ to be outstandingly portrayed and it is grand that all four actors are actually Australian so their accents were obviously perfect. Stephen Connery-Brown is brilliant as father, Harry; especially how fine his perception of his son, Jeff’s sexuality doesn’t bother him at all, furthermore, when he is in his chair after his stroke  it is extremely realistic and sad indeed. Tim McFarland is whimsical as Harry’s son, Jeff; chiefly when he and Greg are noticeably attracted to each other but when Greg leaves you can see the pain and blues across his face which depicts how anxious he is to find a man. Rory Hawkins is wonderful as Jeff’s love interest, Greg; mainly the point when he explains how his parents may kick him out if he comes out to them  and how jealous he is of Jeff and Harry’s relationship, also his moments with Jeff shows that he has to admit his sexuality as this could destroy him later on in life. Annabel Pemberton is decent as, Joyce; expressly how when she cries the tears don’t appear false which is really great to see, moreover, her annoyance to Harry’s dishonesty shows that if she wants to be with harry she wants to know everything about her future son-in-law.

Gene David Kirk’s direction is superlative here as the camaraderie between the four actors looks like they have really enjoyed performing with each other, additionally, the physical quality of the show is as impressive as you can laugh and get moved to tears which means it’s not too serious. David Shields’ designs are dazzling as the transition from a conventional home to a garden in less than fifteen minutes is marvellous and the finesse of the production values such as the scenic painting to the construction shows how Above The Stag never fails to disappoint. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Sum of Us’ was an enjoyable and engrossing one indeed as parents should try to be acquiescent with whatever their child wants to do.

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