Emerging Sydney artist Nick Atkins’ A Boy & A Bean highlights the importance of seeing through what society deems a suitable relationship, knowing that marriage isn’t the pinnacle of love, and understanding the importance of legislative equality in today’s world. A well-written and performed play, this one-man narrative fits the bill for this year’s Mardi Gras Festival fabulously.
We follow the story of Jack and David, both believably played by Atkins, who find each other–and what at least one of them thinks is love–in an Erskineville cafО. It’s narrated the whole way through by a mysteriously camp creature (also Atkins) known only as “the Giant’s first wife”. Over the course of 10 or so years, this 60-minute performance takes us through the ups and downs of same-sex social normative expectations, the dark side of which is represented by the oppressive “giant” that hides in shadows and feeds off sadness, and is counteracted by his now free wife who teaches Jack that words are clunky and humans are stupid.
Almost impeccably delivered, Atkins’ script is superb. It’s original, it’s funny throughout and when it needs to, it certainly gets you thinking. There are also some awesome little nods to our modern day lives, including an iPhone text message conversation projected onto a screen disguised as a back wall, as well as a hilarious mention of our preoccupation with checking in and liking all sorts of random bollocks on social media.
There is a heavy political undertone that, arguably, could be completely scrapped and still leave this an interesting and vibrant celebration of love regardless of your sexuality. However, if you don’t mind a bit of LGBTI empowerment with your Mardi Gras Festival, you’ll come away feeling proud of your brothers and sisters. Which, let’s be honest, can’t be all bad.