Thursday, 1 February 2007

Gay Conversion School Drop Out, Feb 1, 2007

 Gay Conversion School Drop Out 
by Anthony Menchetti, Midsumma Festival
Where and When: Bar Open, Thurs to Sat, Feb 1 to 11, 2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert

If you are someone who believes homosexuality to be a choice rather than an inborn trait, trying to cure a gay man of his homosexuality might make sense. 

To Anthony Menchetti, a very charming, young gay man who was living in Perth, being sent by his Christian parents to a Christian Gay Conversion School was never going to make him prefer women to men. In fact, he dropped out after having a fling with the Team Leader who was immediately demoted. Conversion School was a perfect way to met gay men.

Menchetti’s stories about his evidently obsessional and seriously weird parents and his experiences at Gay Conversion School are good fodder for entertainment. Even Dr. Phil had a program on this very subject recently.

We hear the list of three causes of homosexuality (It is caused by certain kinds of relationships with people of the same sex - or people of the opposite sex!) and discover that the simple cure is to suppress one’s sexual urges. Evidently it does not work.

The stand up routine is peppered with short, uninspiring but funny songs such as I’m Gay, I’m tying to Quit and What a Funny Joke, a song about trying to cover a faux pas with humour. He sings one-line titles to sections of his life such as “Clubbing” or “Coming out,” and underscores scenes with moody keyboard music.

Menchetti’s style is gentle and non-confrontational; he simply tells his story with a few jokes. His descriptions of his now divorced parents are some of the funniest. His father surrounds his house with statues of Jesus and imports useless objects including the hammer torch for a car. His mother conducts home prayer meetings and, for a hobby, obtrusively photographs prostitutes on the street.

His period of working for the post office provides some comic material; disgruntled postal workers are always fair game. An audience member cheerfully assists Menchetti to replay scripts of the most boring and repetitive conversations about lunch in post office history.

He compares gay dating with shopping at IKEA, talks about being set up by friends with inappropriate blind dates and about the horrors of gay saunas and internet dating.

Gay Conversion School is not high camp nor is it high comedy but it is gently amusing.

By Kate Herbert

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