Superb sojourn in the life of a legend
By Joana Simmons
“If I have any talent at all, it is not for doing but for being.”
Resident Alien, presented by Cameron Lukey, is a thought-provoking look at English writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp. The seasoned and critically-acclaimed Paul Capsis embodies this textured effeminate character and has the audience swept up as he recounts stories and moments from his fascinating life.
Quentin Crisp was a self-described flamboyant homosexual. He’s a man who defied convention by criticising Gay liberation and Diana, Princess of Wales. At a time when homosexuality was illegal, Crisp remained true to himself and expressed himself by dying his long hair lavender, wearing nail polish, and dressing in an often androgynous style. Despite the ridicule and violence often directed toward him, Crisp carried on, meeting hostility with wit. When he tried to join the army with the outbreak of World War he was rejected by the medical board, who determined that he was suffering from sexual perversion. Instead, Crisp remained in London and entertained the American GIs, whose friendliness inculcated a love for Americans and he moved to Manhattan in 1981, when he was 72 years old. Crisp continued to tour, write, and lecture; including instructions on how to live life with style and the importance of manners.
The play by Tim Fountain picks up in Quentin’s dusty single-room Manhattan apartment, littered with books and dirty plates, where Crisp speaks to the audience as he prepares to be visited by Mr Brown and Mr Black. His monologue moves naturally and conversationally through a plethora of opinions and anecdotes, from the mundane to the ones that strike a chord in your heart and get your brain spinning. Paul Capsis is outstanding in this role. Each single look and mannerism is captivating and his skillful delivery of the wordy and lengthy script is astonishing.
Director Gary Abrahams has helped construct a theatre piece that gives you more than something to sink your teeth into- it’s a piece of theatre that needs to sink in. To be able to stage one man’s story and views and have it make us reflect on our own whilst still being entertaining is true craftsmanship. Romaine Harper’s costume and set design gives immediate depth and background to this interesting person as the Fortyfivedownstairs performance space is transformed into Crisp’s apartment, cleverly lit by lighting designer Rob Sowinski and all accompanied by Daniel Nixon’s sound design. You can tell the production is high-calibre and many hours have been spent on tying everything into one professional and glamorous bow.
Sometimes we go to the theatre to laugh, sometimes we go to cry, sometimes we go to forget about our own lives and live in a different world for a moment in time. Resident Alien gives us all these things. It’s remarkable, it’s memorable and it’s still got me reflecting now. If you go to the theatre and you enjoyed yourself, that’s great. If you go to the theatre and it makes you question yourself, that’s art. Congratulations to all the creatives involved for producing such a high-class production.
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs, 45 Flinders Lane, CBD
Season:Until June 12 2016
Image by Sarah Walker