Friday, 30 October 2015

Someone LIke Thomas Banks, Oct 31, 2015 ***

Written by Thomas Banks & Gayelene Carbis
By Platform & Straightjacket Productions
At 45downstairs, from Sat Oct 31, 2015
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sat Oct 30
Stars: ***
Full review also published in Herald Sun online on Mon Nov 2, 2015 and thereafter in print. KHs

Looking for love is hard enough in this world, but when you are a young, gay man living in a regional town and you have a disability, that search becomes even more complicated.

Thomas Banks is an engaging, playful 24 year-old who lives with cerebral palsy, but that’s not stopping him having a full life doing jobs that include disability advocate, usher, actor and writer.

In Someone Like Thomas Banks, a short performance about his life, Thomas addresses the audience directly and, although his speech is often difficult to decipher, his message is always clear: he wants love and he wants to communicate with people and engage fully with the world.

Thomas looks for love and friendship online where he can express himself fluently in writing without having to rely on verbal interaction.

However, sometimes things goes awry when he meets prospective partners in person and, in one hilarious first date encounter re-enacted by audience members, Thomas asks too much too soon, his date scarpers and Thomas foolishly considers pursuing him.

Thomas makes fun of his own pushiness, his need to text a new beau ten times a day and of his desire to chase the men who reject him or delete him from Facebook.

He reveals that he wants a partner to be cute, that he visits gay saunas four times a week (Is he exaggerating?) and that he likes older men.

His joyfulness and joking are tempered with distressing stories about being bullied on the bus as a child, being rejected when a potential lover first sees his disability and being mistaken for a drunk then beaten.

Thomas employs various devices to tell his story, including his Stage Manager (Canada White) translating unclear dialogue for us, even when Thomas insists that we’ll get the gist without her help.

He uses an electronic translator to convert his typed words to speech, while his thoughts and Facebook posts appear as dialogue on an upstage screen.

Lucy Freeman’s direction keeps the play personal, amiable and simple as Thomas tells tales of love lost and won then lost again.

In addition to audience members, White and an enthusiastic Auslan interpreter (Lynn Gordon), a further character, Rodney (Lee Mason), joins Thomas on stage or, more precisely, on screen.

Rodney’s counselling and interviewing techniques challenge Thomas’s choices, motives and relationships while providing clarity for Thomas’s indistinct responses.

In this very personal story, we join Thomas’s quest for a life with meaning and his search for love in all the wrong places – a search with which everyone, with or without disability, will identify.

By Kate Herbert

Performed by Thomas Banks
Canada White – Stage Manager & Lorraine
Lucy Freeman – Director
GayeleneCarbis –Co-writer
Nina Barry –Macauley - Dramaturg
Lee Mason – Rodney (on video)
Performed by Thomas Banks
Canada White – Stage Manager, Set Designer & Lorraine
Lucy Freeman – Director
GayeleneCarbis –Co-writer
Nina Barry –Macauley - Dramaturg
Lee Mason – Rodney (video counsellor)

L-R:  Canada White & Thomas Banks

No comments:

Post a Comment