Fags in Space (Stage 4, Walterdale Theatre)
By Liz Nicholls, 12thnight.ca
Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, two gays messaged each other….
In this charmer of a rom-com by Liam Salmon, Luca and Todd (Sheldon Stockdale and Braden Butler, both excellent) are reviewing the cosmic forces that have brought them together across a vast universe. They’ve just moved in together, the final frontier. And they’re hosting a Christmas housewarming, a double-barrelled couple stress, fielding the inevitable question from their guests (that would be us): So how did you two meet?
And since Todd and Luca are reviewing their narrative — “our trilogy, boxed set, limited edition” — for our benefit, revising and rewriting memory, amending and confirming as they go, Fags in Space starts in the sheer randomness and breadth of deep screen gay space — Grindr, SCRUFF and the rest — and a frisson of gravitational attraction between distant stars. And it includes their own takes on such classic get-to-know-you gambits as “what was your worst date ever?” and “where do you see yourself in five years?”
Todd, sweetly earnest and awkward in Butler’s performance, is an astronomy post-grad who doesn’t know Star Wars from Star Trek. Luca, an expert on the nerdier reaches of pop culture, works for a company that creates exotic new cereals for upmarket hipsters. His wry and easeful sense of humour is winningly captured by Stockdale, Can Todd and Luca find happiness together?
Rom-coms are built on friction, obstacles to overcome, apparent incompatibilities, setbacks and separations, doubts, improbabilities that are actually romantic inevitabilities to everyone (except the participants). Salmon, a skilled writer of natural, funny romantic dialogue, moulds the form artfully. And Owen Holloway’s production is lit with the romantic chemistry between the actors; Salmon’s characters are amusing and amused with each other, a little wary, very aware of the odds stacked in this world against gay love stories with happy endings. We want them to succeed.
Did I mention that it was a fun party at Todd and Luca’s place? And we all had a very good time?