Wednesday, 28 January 2004

A Thousand & One Night Stands, Barry Lowe, Jan 28, 2004

 A Thousand and One Night Stands 
 by Barry Lowe
 Performing Arts Productions Australia
Theatreworks, St. Kilda,  Jan 28 until Feb 14, 2004
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 28, 2004

A Thousand and One Night Stands is a misnomer for this play about the sordid and tragic life of Jon Vincent.

The concept of the one night stand pales into insignificance in the light of Vincent's often violent sexual cavalcade.

His life involved years of male prostitution, a long career in gay porn, all sorts of addictive drugs and alcohol and several marriages.

Barry Lowe's  play is based on the book of the same name written by Vincent's friend, Hope A. Carson,  and conceived in the months before Vincet's death from a heroin overdose.

Aaron Smith,  faces the challenge of one hundred minutes on stage alone and naked, talking directly to the audience as Jon Vincent about his damaged, drug-riddled and nearly pathological life.

Vincent travels from potential US baseball star to porn star in his early twenties.

There is, admittedly, some morbid fascination for his tragic life, even for those who do not know his videos. The story is compelling in a perverse way.

Lowe's script is extremely dense with dialogue describing Vincent's past exploits. There is little action. Smith does not move from the single bed that is surrounded by hypodermic needles.

Such a torrent of expository dialogue is difficult for the actor to sustain and the audience to absorb. It leaves little room for theatrical or emotional action.

Director, Robert Chuter,  compensates with small stage action, constant doorbells and phones ringing and Vincent's frequent onstage drug taking.

Although Smith does not physically resemble the bulky, athletic Vincent, he makes the dialogue credible much of the time. However, he is inclined to maintain the same vocal rhythm and pace and his Southern accent is intermittent.

Some unsuccessful directorial choices are made with the background sound. Snatches of dialogue and songs are often out of place.

Anthony Breslin's  set design is effective with huge white drapes and hypodermics strung as curtains.

As part of the Midsumma Festival,  this production and its companion piece about Joey Stephano,  will appeal to a part of the gay community.

It might not be your cup of tea.

By Kate Herbert

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