The Ritz

23 February 2016 | 2:32 pm | Sean Maroney

"Seductive, steamy and out of control, lovers of farce should rush to the New Theatre."

Queer theatre is often a tragedy told by archetypally queer characters. The Ritz, though, turns this on its head with a festive and salacious madhouse farce.

Premiering in 1975 in New York, Terrence McNally's play is all about the pre-AIDS world of possibility that queerness offered. Public sex, orgies, and Krisco were the terms of the time for a community spreading their roots (quite enthusiastically on all fronts). Landing in 2016 in Newtown, the play is seen through the same veil of amyl and sex, tickles the same spots, and is performed as raucously as the original cast would have done. The plot follows an unsuspecting heterosexual man, Gaetano Proclo, as he finds himself holed up in the bathhouse for the night in order to escape his murderous brother-in-law, Carmine Vespucci. A fat, straight man in Manhattan bathhouse? The farce only starts from here.

Tom Bannerman, the set designer, must be congratulated for what is one of the most elaborate sets independent theatre in Sydney has ever seen. The audience is confronted with the two-storey labyrinthine interior of a Manhattan bathhouse. Elaborate chase scenes are a rare sight for the theatre but director David Martin has exploited the set wonderfully. At times the space is so populated that it looks like a game of Whack-A-Mole, characters popping out only to be bonked back in by someone else.

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Seductive, steamy and out of control, lovers of farce should rush to the New Theatre.