Writers: Sean Chandler and David Leeper
Director: David Zak
Reviewer: Bryan Hogan
At The Flash is an award-winning production, from the renowned Chicago-based Pride Films ad Plays production collective, winning the annual Gay Play competition for the best new LGBT writing for theatre and screen in2012. They are now presenting the European Premiere as part of the 11thInternational Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.
At The Flash is mostly familiar ground for LGBTQ narratives, the closeted man, the aging drag queen, the drug addicted porn star, the lesbian activist and now the new married man.. The character of Miss Sparkle the aging drag queen is nostalgic and poignant and resonates with audiences today. Drag Queens are always at the front lines of battle, from the queens at Stonewall to our own Miss Panti Bliss. They are easy targets because they live their lives in the in-between. And as a result take the first hit. David Leeper performs her with great affection.
The main character, Rod, speaks at the end of having his cathartic moment, which is interesting because this is denied to the audience through the montage structure. However, this is wise because the script is emotive. Each character had a sad life, victims of their times, even the contemporary character Rod though a success ultimately has paid a price when his parents cannot share in his success. Though one can see the transformation of LGBTQ lives over the decades, success in accepting yourself.
The programming of At The Flash at Outhouse, Dublin’s LGBTQI community space isn’t lost on this reviewer, the tagline of the play being ‘May you always have a place to call home’, which Outhouse has been providing through a community space since 1996. Down the road is Dublin’s ‘Flash’, Pantibar. At a time when much discourse surrounds the closing of bars due to increased social media and the easier ways people connect now, the grand re-opening of the ‘Flash’ seemed disconnected.
This play was about emotion rather than politics and would have benefitted with some edits. There’s a sequence towards the end where all the characters At The Flash appear in a virtuosic performance by Leeper, this could have been a natural ending.
What At The Flash questions is how we document a history lived in the shadows, how theatre plays a rôle in educating the next generation. In the end this is a play with a lot of heart told with lots of love and that is hard to fault.
Photo courtesy of IDGTF. Runs until 10th May.