FAG/STAG was written and is performed by Chris Isaacs and Jeffrey Jay Fowler, two members of Western Australian collective The Last Great Hunt. Originally performed in 2015, the show has enjoyed award-winning seasons at Perth, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe, and played Edinburgh Fringe in 2017 (where it similarly walked award with an accolade).
This week, the two-hander arrived at Griffin Theatre Company’s Stables Theatre for its Sydney premiere. This is a piece that, using Fowler’s and Isaacs’ words, is an endeavour to present “a true to life picture of friendship, masculinity and sexuality”.
In FAG/STAG, we meet best friends Jimmy (Fowler) and Corgan (Isaacs). Jimmy is gay and has just been dumped by his boyfriend, Tim. Corgan is a straight man, whose ex-girlfriend appears to have gotten over him much quicker than he has her – she’s about to get married.
In a wonderful conversational tone, Jimmy and Corgan each tell the story of the events that transpire, following the receipt of the wedding invitation. The tale they tell involves time spent playing Nintendo games together, flicking through dating apps and arranging casual hook-ups, and using alcohol and drugs as means to suppress or dilute difficult thoughts. But while many of the events mentioned are shared experiences, the two versions of the story differ. It’s a reflection on just how differently people can perceive the same events (and how a couple of forgotten details can drastically compromise the accuracy of a recollection.)
FAG/STAG is a thoroughly entertaining 60-minute piece that wonderfully balances humour and drama, and the movement between the two is never jarring or unnatural. It has a great script that is convincingly delivered by Fowler and Isaacs, each actor being a talented storyteller who ensures audience attention never drifts.
In terms of the content, FAG/STAG is a familiar portrayal of men – straight and gay – behaving badly, and demonstrating their insecurities and quirks. It’s a reminder of some of the shameful social conventions and attitudes that (unfortunately) remain a part of life today, and what it can actually take to make us realise how wrong our behaviour can be. Additionally, it highlights the poor friendship we often offer others when absorbed by our own issues.
It’s easy to see why each season of FAG/STAG to date, both interstate and abroad, has been met with such a strongly positive response. Be sure to catch it before it leaves Sydney.
FAG/STAG – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Griffin Theatre Company, SBW Stables Theatre (10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross)
Dates: Playing now until 27 January, 2018
Times: Monday – Friday 7pm, Saturday 20 and 27 January 2pm & 7pm