Manchester Theatre Awards

> Independent informed reviews by the region’s most experienced critics

Out (GM Fringe)

Stewart Campbell
Qweerdog
53 Two, Manchester
07 July 2018 to 22 July 2018

 

Out ,by Stewart Campbell, takes a decidedly unusual look at the level of tolerance displayed when sexual orientation becomes apparent and raises questions on whether being raised in a tolerant environment will prevent prejudice from developing.

Debbie ( Leni Murphy) has accepted that her son Luke(Adam Gardiner) is Gay but their relationship is strained by more mundane issues such as his lackadaisical attitude towards education. Luke exploits his mother’s broadmindedness and brings lovers to the home they share. There is mutual attraction between Luke and Neil (Stewart Dylan-Campbell) but the former is still in Sixth Form while the latter is older and a teacher. Luke has developed a sense of entitlement and is determined to ignore these obstacles to the distress of his mother. The family is pushed to crisis as Luke reacts with abhorrence to discovering his mother has entered into a sexual relationship with another woman. Then secrets that have been buried for years begin to emerge.

Filtering events through the perception of the characters reduces the complexity of the situation.  Luke’s behaviour is shown as selfish and immature which avoids assessing if it is a betrayal of the principles under which he was raised.  The familial conflict is unrealistic as Debbie comes close to sainthood when dealing with her son’s behaviour. Her response to Luke’s disapproval of her becoming Gay is not to point out his hypocrisy but to end the relationship. No effort is made to develop the character of Luke by encouraging him to take a more mature attitude and appreciate two adults in a same sex relationship is not the same as a teenager having an affair with a teacher or he should simply extend to his mother the same respect she has shown to him.

Adam Gardiner follows the script and makes Luke a selfish character but no consideration is given to whether a more disciplined upbringing might have made Luke less of a brat. The relationship between Luke and Neil lacks credibility as one is ignorant with a short temper and the other urbane and well-educated so it is hard to see what they have in common.

There is an abrupt change of tone in the final scene as the play shifts from domestic drama into a thriller. As this contrivance requires a character who has previously taken a reasoned approach to the developing crisis to suddenly become a blackmailer it is not very convincing.

Out raises but does not fully explore interesting ideas about tolerance and respecting the sexual choices of other people

Out returns to 53 Two, Manchester, on 21st and 22nd July 2018

Reviewer: David Cunningham