By Joana Simmons
For his debut full length cabaret; Peter Rugg brings us Peter Rugg’s Big Gay Adventure!, the camp tale of a narcissistic millennial who lifts the lid on what it’s like to be gay today. Peter is brave and Rugg-edly uncovered in this Caba-gay filled with pop and musical theatre songs, educational anedcotes and one sparkly blazer.
As a kid, Peter dreamed of having the wedding with the isle and the doves and the man of his dreams. He points out that he didn’t have very many gay couples as role models and when he woke up in the adult world, realised that amongst the tanned hairless twinks on Grindr, finding this happy-every-after might be harder than he thought. Especially living in a country where marriage still isn’t legal. Cheeky one-liners and smug segues between stories and songs navigate us through tribes and groups of ‘types’ of gay, dating, anonymous hook-ups, judgement, body image and discrimination. Some of the more meaty topics he touched on lightly, though I would have loved for him to authentically bare all truths about them- sexual health, role-model couples and what it’s like being in the closet, rather than spending more time talking about Grindr and things which are stereotypical for a young gay man.
For a first full-length show, this content and topic is no walk in the park, and Peter tackled it with gusto though structurally the issues could be developed more to really hit home. He’s interesting, and I wanted him to go deeper (excuse the innuendo, after seeing this show I see it in everything!)
Rainer on the piano sweetly accompanies him and must also be mentioned for his speaking role and assistance with putting Peter back on his train of throught. The adaptations on pop and musical theatre songs express his wants, views and struggles. Highlights were his rendition of Estelle’s “American Boy” and the heartfelt song for all the men in the closet, and these made up for moments in other songs where notes were pitchy and storytelling and ideas were lost. Applause followed every number and his energy carried through. His interaction with the crowd was relaxed and conversational; he was able to work the crowd well although some of the time he spoke directly to his friends, and it felt like the two of them having a chat over brunch that the rest of us weren’t invited to. The final few numbers were standouts and made up for all the flaws previously mentioned: his honesty about how it felt when he held hands with a boy in public for the first time, and the fear of discrimination, and what his wedding would be like had me fixated. Finishing with a fabulous upbeat number left us loving him all the way to his curtsey.
This caba-gay is an onstage celebration of all things camp. It’s not easy doing a solo cabaret: you are baring a part of your soul in an entertaining way. It’s probably even harder when it’s a part of your soul not everyone in this country agrees with. So for that, and more, support Peter Rugg and his Big Gay Adventure because what he has to say is important and the talent is definitely there. He’s a looker too: you can’t help but get lost in his GAY-ze.
Show Details: Peter Rugg’s Big Gay Adventure!
Dates: July 20-24
Venue: The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne