Reading playscripts is something I used to do for pleasure as a teenager. (Fair to say I was maybe a bit besotted with theatre then, not to mention being a bit of an oddball as well!)
So putting my hand up to read some about 60 years later is either a sign of regressing, or a renewed interest. I’m going for renewed interest.
It was absolutely fascinating to read a script again. Victor Rodger certainly packs a punch in his dialogue, but it’s what lies beneath the script that provides the real substance – values, stereotypes, pre- and mis-conceptions are all challenged in these three plays.
They are sometimes shocking, often funny, and above all they challenge the reader in many ways, so I can only guess at the power which must emanate from the stage productions when the challenge is really laid down.
Black Faggot, (the book title, and the first play) grew from a response to Destiny Church and their position on same-sex marriage, and it’s a powerful and thought-provoking work. VUP has kindly allowed me to quote from the comments by Tanu Gago:
‘I never understood what it took to love another man until I was transformed by the love of another man…………………….on the other side of all that pain and fear we are also capable of experiencing real love. The type of love that saves our lives.’
This, to me, is the essence of Black Faggot. There is a very positive message here for young men, in particular, struggling with their gender identity.
The other plays, At the Wake and Club Paradiso give equally thought-provoking messages. At the Wake shows the difficulty some of us have with acceptance of the other, in whatever shape or persona that comes, and again is a deeply moving play.
Club Paradiso challenged me more; the violence is too much for me and the play shocked me deeply on several fronts – the mindless violence, fuelled presumably by methamphetamine, the sexual bullying and the graphic details depict a kind of place where, fortunately, I have never been. However the play has a innate truthfulness, and that is perhaps why I struggled with it – as a straight pakeha woman of a certain age, I hate to think that behaviour like this exists, even though I know that it does.
More power to Victor Rodger, is all I can say. It takes a brave and accomplished writer to deliver work like this.
Reviewed by Sue Esterman
Black Faggot and other plays
by Victor Rodger
Published by VUP