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Verdict: Experiences of older gay men
Silver Stars is based on interviews which its writer Sean Millar conducted with older Irish gay men. Many of them grew up in a country were homosexuality came out at least a generation later than in the rest of the Western world. Ten older gay men perform a mixture of songs and monologues, accompanied musically by a classical string trio and singer-songwriter Sean Millar. Songs are loosely based on material from the interviews, zeroing in on key phrases and concepts, repeating them in the lyrics and monologues, to amplify their power.
For example, one of the more touching elements is the story of a man who was living in Paris to escape Irish homophobia. He was visited by his mother. She said that God said his life was sinful, but that she loved him more than God - powerful words which were repeated, while each performer held in his hands a picture of his own real-life mother.
The tone is quiet and defiant dignity, conveying the silent suffering of many older Irish gay men over the years. This overwhelming solemnity, while bearing witness to such suffering, lasts throughout the show, with smiles breaking out only when taking the bow at the end. Much of the material is also serious, with only one early tale of gay Italian monks that could be described as humorous.
The seriousness is a welcome antidote to a contemporary gay stereotype of the effete party animal – all here come across as ordinary men, defined by more than just their sexuality. The ten are not Sean Millar's interviewees; they are ten other gay men of a similar age. Many have not performed on stage before. As the stories are not theirs, it gives them a distance from the material. But since they grew up in a similar situation and at a similar time, the stories have a resonance which comes through in their performance. They contributed to the writing of the songs, offering their own experiences. Indeed, the choice to participate in such a show, for individuals without stage experience, is itself a powerful one and it makes the show especially compelling.
Cast Credits: (alpha order): Liam Bourke. Michael Byrne. Paraic Cullen. Patrick Fagan. Michael Foley. Erich Keller. Martin McCann. Frank McMullan. Pat Morris. Neil Watkins. Musicians (alpha order) - Gerard Farrelly, Emma McNaughton, Sean Millar, Jillian Saunders.
Company Credits: Writer - Sean Millar. Co-Directors - Feidlim Cannon & Gary Keegan. Designer - Ciaran O'Melia. Lighting Designer - Sarah Jane Shiels. Sound Designer - not credited. Video Designer - Kilian Waters. Technical Operator - not credited. Stage Manager - Francis Fay. Photographer - Francis Fay. Producer - not credited. Website - www.brokentalkers.com/. Company - Brokentalkers in association with Abbey Theatre.
(c) Colman Higgins 2009
reviewed 29 Septemember 09 / 22:00 / Project Cube, Dublin, Ireland
Fringe Report (c) Fringe Report 2002-2013