In an age where people are beginning to take a bat to the ideals of hypermasculinity, a new play from upcoming playwright Adam Fawcett has highlighted the intense and intricate dynamics of a relationship dealing with the enforced notion of toxic masculinity and heteronormativity in Australian sports. A peek in this year’s Midsumma Festival, Become The One shines a light on issues plaguing the world of queer relationships, through the lens of two characters, the young and eager Noah, and his partner Tom, the brash football stud on the tail end of his career. As the two begin to fall in love, the audience is taken on a journey through the ups and downs of a relationship between two clandestine partners.
As the play progresses, the audience is treated to an experience that features some of the most relatable situations and lives of people living in the queer community.
Noah takes the form of many millennials in the current culture, from his over-romanticised view of his relationship and the world at large, to his attitude that enlivens almost every scene he appears in. Throughout the production, Noah constantly tries to urge Tom out of the closet and allow himself to live freely, however, thorough this, there’s never a sense of pushiness or over-simplification of Tom’s situation. Noah just wants the best for the man he loves, and tragedy manifests in Noah’s failure to properly understand the world and current culture of Australian football, threatening what could be a fruitful relationship.
Tom, on the other hand, is dealing with forces that intend to break-up his relationship regardless of how he tries to avoid them. Holding the whole world on his back, Tom is trying to figure out how to have to all and still be with the man he loves. Living half of his life in secret, Tom tries to keep his relationship with Noah under wraps while he vies for an extension in his contract. As Noah grows ever more frustrated in their relationship, Tom tries to tamper down his discomfort with Noah’s femininity while also trying to support the person he loves. It’s a fresh and thoughtful take on the interpersonal drama that’s involved when two polar opposites fall in love.
However, the biggest draw to the story is the dynamic between the two leads actors who create an incredibly charismatic and lived-in performance as both Noah and Tom.
Both Chris Asimios and Henry Strand give a performance that resonates long after the play is over; a testament to the seriousness in which they take their character’s journey. There’s an inherent likability to both of the characters, who in less capable hands could risk coming across as distant. With the entire show resting solely on their shoulders, the two continue to astound with their breathtaking work. From the inflections they cast upon their character’s dialogue and personality through their subtle yet vulnerable movements and expressions, to the understated way in which they convey tragedy and the ensuing emotions in the quietest of moments.
Become The One exhibits a clear voice in the way which it engages with its material. As we swing through different moments in their story, we are treated to an inside look at Noah and Tom’s inner dynamics; from their basic television hangouts (which includes one particular RuPaul’s Drag Race gag) to their most epic of fights.
The script utilises the characters to break down stereotypes placed upon the queer community who, in order to live their lives, are put into a certain category and face a barrage of negative views from outside parties.
This leads to a stunning moment in the play, in which Noah is forced to scream words of frustration over his discomfort and exhaustion with the constant bullying and stereotyping he deals with in his everyday life. A frustration that many gay individuals, who’ve dealt with similar problems, have felt at some point in their life.
The story and themes are handled respectfully and feature a strong connection to queer culture and the toxic forces the community has to deal with on a daily basis. However, there’s a sense of immediacy to the structure of the play that tends to skim over the action in a way that could give the audience a bit of a whiplash. The story progresses through each beat with a whip-smart pace that often left viewers gasping for more.
Often, you’ll be left hoping to have that extra moment with the characters before being propelled into the next scene.
Taking a little bit more time with both Noah and Tom in each moment would allow for just a bit more insight into each of them because they are characters you want to hang out with and support each step of the way.
This isn’t to say Becoming The One is less than stellar. The entire production, all of which takes place upon the one set that is constantly transformed with each scene in the story, works succinctly with the themes that can be often hard to talk about in the community and that deserves more coverage in mainstream media. The disparity of masculinity and femininity in gay men has been a widely debated topic that is rarely touched upon outside the occasional joke. Become the One works to break down harmful stereotypes the best it can. That is an achievement worth heralding.
For more information on Become The One, click here.
You can catch a staged reading of Become The One, Saturday, March 9, at ChillOut Festival. For more information and tickets to the event, click here.