Monday, January 10, 2011

Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments: A Man of No Importance

A Man of No Importance-October 2009-L. Howard Fox Theatre
Taking place in Ireland a young playwright named Alfie Byrne takes upon writing a play for the town actors to perform while also facing the difficulty of discovering his own sexuality. The whole play is pretty much Alfie’s coming out experience, and an awkward coming out experience it is.

*Beware of Spoilers*

Any confrontation Alfie has with Breton Beret: We meet Breton Beret, who coincidentally wears a beret and looks more like a stereotypical French guy lost in Dublin rather than an Irish guy in my opinion, in the play’s local bar, because, you know, what is an Irish play without a bar as one its settings, right? Anyway Breton hangs out in this bar and he often checks out Alfie, suggesting that he is gay. He then begins messing with Alfie’s mind, saying that Alfie was checking him out as well. He pretty much speaks in riddles with a sly tone of voice confusing Alfie and making him begin to realize that he is gay as well. Now bear in mind up until this point Alfie pretty much considers himself straight so this so-called connection he and this guy have is news to him. You can tell that Alfie is uncomfortable in every scene with him until the muse of Oscar Wilde (yes, THE Oscar Wilde—I’ll get to that in a minute) inspires him to try to pursue a relationship with Breton because the man he is in love with is straight and does not return his affections let alone know about them. It then turns out that Mr. Beret is one of those gay-basher guys and beats and robs Alfie. Yes, a quick change of events there. I actually found it a real jaw dropper because it happens so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Alfie walks in on Robbie Faye and Mrs. Patrick: The man Alfie falls for during the play is Robbie Faye, the town bus driver. It becomes obvious that Robbie does not return Alfie’s affections, nor is Alfie really sure of his affection for Robbie, for like I said this whole play is Alfie’s coming out experience of discovering who he is. Robbie is a friend of Alfie’s but there is a point in the play when Robbie actually seems to find Alfie irritating. This is when Alfie walks in on him and Mrs. Patrick. It turns out he is having an affair with this married woman. What makes this scene awkward is the fact that the lights are completely off and when they come up Alfie walks in on a heavy make-out session between the two, Mrs. Patrick a bit undressed, leading to a disturbing reaction among all three parties involved. It’s kind of heartbreaking because we can all relate to feeling the disappointment of witnessing someone else with the object of our affections. The fact that they were in a sexual embrace preparing to do the deed, Alfie thought he actually had a chance with Robbie, and the whole struggle Alfie had with his sexuality, was all toppled onto each other, making it that much more difficult for Alfie to handle. Seeing Robbie and Mrs. Patrick together was just icing on a not-so-tasty cake.

Oscar Wilde: That’s right. The legendary supposedly homosexual playwright himself makes an appearance. Though this may not be considered an awkward sexual moment, I thought I’d include it because I believe there is a connection between him and Alfie. Alfie greatly admires the work of Oscar Wilde and uses them as inspiration for his own pieces. Regardless, the whole scene with Wilde is awkward because he just randomly enters as Alfie’s hallucination dressed with a huge hat, cape, and cane, and provides Alfie with the same attire. They walk around the stage and to me the scene just seemed out of place with the rest of the play. However, it seems as though the presence of Oscar Wilde does serve a purpose because a good thing that comes out of this scene is that Alfie seems to finally become comfortable with his sexuality and goes out to pursue relationships with men. Unfortunately, this also leads to the episode with Breton Beret.

Tomorrow: Arcadia. :)

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