Featured image: (l to r): Reuben Solomon as The Writer and Edward O’Leary as The Academic. Photo Credit: Chris Lundie

It’s Mardi Gras. It’s 2024. Marriage Equality in Australia is in its seven-year itch. And it’s the start of the season for Newtown’s New Theatre. What a fabulous time to stage Jordan Seavey’s no-holds-barred time-travel of a reflective romp, Homos, or Everyone in America.

This play is not an event with a few gentle time-shifts and neat debate on the finer and spiky points growing up gay in a relationship. Its key couple of homos reflect on overlapping scenes in their history, memory, mood, meets and hooked up predicament.

What unfolds is woven around the audience as a tricky non-chronological romp to ponder, unravel, reconsider and reorder. We relive sharp scenes and hopes several times over in parallel with them being worked on and out by the protagonists.

This format on the first time takes a moment to warm to. This ensemble and the production team at New Theatre are gentle though, helping us trace the vine-like trajectories and take from vignettes what we need.

By 2024 and even by 2006 when this play’s memories begin, ‘homos’ enjoyed quite public tolerance. The waves of Marriage Equality campaigns and increased confidence to stand a political and human ground are and were washing over the world.

But what of the whitewash of negotiating relationships in the twenty first century-for same sex, queer couples and everyone else alike?

Jordan Seavey’s play, a rollercoaster of short, intense scenes which flip and switch back and forth through time, helps us glimpse the challenges posed by love in the of time of tolerance.

The delivery of such volatile, non-chronological snapshots requires stamina and knife-edge mood juxtaposition on the part of the two main actors Edward O’Leary (as The Academic) and Reuben Solomon (The Writer).

Capable direction and swift stage resets by the quartet onstage need to keep the segues and fractured relationship fragments flowing throughout. Audience members too must be hard workers to match each scene in time and emotional tessitura.

This is a tour worth taking though, assisted by strong harnessing of all emotions and elements by director Alex Kendall Robson. The impressive onstage talents employ deft coverage of this performance space. There is a good variety of lighting employed here to suggest the bar, bedroom, house parties and the potentially dangerous New York exteriors.

Many of the top ten issues or identity controversies for any pair (‘normal or straight’ as the script goes) attempting to be a couple are covered here. Dating apps, drugs, alcohol, threesomes, cohabitation, gay-hate violence, ambition and success all get an airing, often discussed on a quite elevated, intellectual and at times not very down to earth level.

Major fights, versatile truth, pain, discomfort, loneliness and hopes crushed plus other blockbuster relationship signposts are debated and discussed with rapid-fire intensity in the bar, the Lush bath bomb bar, the bed, the apartment, and at parties.

Also, chatting with queer-specific hue the notions of personal safety, acceptance, politics, identity, equality and endurance, still hotspots unfortunately present in the twenty-first century drench this piece with food for thought. The four cast members and creatives deliver scenes concerning the hunger for contentment, thrill in clearly drawn lines as very raw moments show how the ‘homos’ can starve in the community.

Seavey’s dialogue style, especially early on, makes use of overlapping utterances, with the couple talking over each other as if their words mean nothing to the partner. This highlights hopeless communication and isolation even despite a plethora of words, unclear or unheard opinions and needs.

This hectic counterpoint of conversation is an effective and purposefully annoying profile of confusion or frustration. It is a minefield for the actors, which is attacked valiantly here. As well as the constant resets and adjusting to quick time and feeling for each scene, the voice-over, boil-over anger in stereophonic fugue is also a meaty dramatic device. There is a mountain of work in these moments alone so many nuances and options for deliver, which will no doubt develop throughout the run.

This production benefits from a powerhouse ensemble supporting and extending the intensity of Sonya Kerr was warm and wise as Laila at the Lush bar whilst the Architect is in hospital with facial injuries. Also on total point was Dan, the outside-of-relationship para-reality foil as drawn with nice timing and gesturing by Axel Berecry.

This production of Seavey’s 2016 play received a great response from everyone at the New Theatre, with a standing ovation on opening night. Its capable and slick artistry is perfect Mardi Gras Festival fare for our challenging modern times. See it with your tribe.

Homos, Or Everyone in America plays at New Theatre, King St Newtown until March 9 2024