“A year ago you were healthy and straight, now you’re gay and have cancer… that’s a lot to deal with.” Welcome to Craplicker, Steven Gallagher’s exciting new (and first!) play about being gay, falling in love and coming out, in that order. The show plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival.
The play centers on Josh, a nearly thirty year old man who is slowly venturing into the vibrant Gay Village of Toronto, as he works through accepting and embracing the fact that he is gay and mustering the courage to reveal this secret to his family. As he wades one baby step at a time into the sometimes frightening gay pool, an unexpected and critical diagnosis ends up pushing him into terrifying unchartered waters.
Yet, instead of focusing on the fear and the gravity of this situation, Gallagher roots Craplicker in the bonds of friendship between Josh, Patrick, Alan and Neil which gives rise to crisp dialogue, delightfully bitchy witticisms, genuine humour and heart. There is a beautiful tender moment between Josh and his friend, Patrick who speaks to him about bravery, self expression and Grease while he begins to transform himself into his Drag Queen alter ego, which is especially poignant.
All the actors in the play have created distinct and memorable characters and each one has his own arc and growth throughout the piece, which is no small feat for a short play. Caden Douglas plays Josh with such charm and vulnerability even sitting in the audience, at times I wanted to run up and hug him. Jeff Miller’s hesitance as Neil is subtle, and by times heart wrenching. Ryan Kelly’s Alan has perfect comic timing, David Gale wells up with sensitivity and emotion in a deeply beautiful way, and Wesley Connor’s aloofness as Donald, the ex-boyfriend, creates a nice tension.
Mary Francis Moore directs the play expertly and always makes smooth, clear transitions between the present moment and flashbacks. Monica Dottor has added really great surgery prep choreography, which gives the play a touch of campiness that I found utterly delightful. It’s incredible to think that this is Steven Gallagher’s first play. It is engaging and heartfelt and his characters are strong and dynamic. There is a lot of exposition in the play, and, as in everything, I think there is room for growth and development, but ultimately, this is a strong piece of theatre executed by some very talented artists.
Craplicker plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) at the following times:
Wed, July 7 7:30 PM
Thu, July 8 5:45 PM
Fri, July 9 5:15 PM
Sat, July 10 11:30 PM
Sun, July 11 Noon
all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.