Just as every movie could be improved by containing a character played by Meryl Streep, I now believe that every theatrical piece could benefit from the involvement of Keith Cole. Sky Gilbert's plays are always full of ideas, laughs and clever concepts -- who knew that including dance would add heart and a delightful romanticism?
takes a classic love-triangle scenario, seasons it with gay truths and cinéma verité, and then layers on dance/movement pieces -- choreographed by Cole -- that illustrate and illuminate the dramatic goings-on between the trio. The parallel structure splinters as Dancing Queen
progresses, and the dance club beats versus film-score symphonics mutate in intriguing ways with the addition of cartoonish antics, props and sight gags.
is explicitly about the way gay men treat each other, and by grounding the play in such a specific context Gilbert has created a piece that resonates universally. While the sexual acts may be unique to our particular minority, hearts and emotions are common to all. Delightful that two of our most proudly intransigent artists have created a theatrical piece that could easily cross over without pandering in the least.
Adding to the popular (subversive?) appeal is a spectacular set that not only evokes glamour, but constantly delights, and a sonic sampling of classic songs well-loved by us gays. David-Benjamin Tomlinson and Ryan Kelly are always a delight to watch, and the raw intimacy of the emotions they access while interacting is so naturalistic that their stylized dancing becomes swoon-worthy. Nick Green has a trickier part but manages to make an off-putting character appealing and his dancing -- despite the tragic shortness of his tap section -- is simple, direct and breathtaking.
makes its points subtly and with humour and leaves the audience with an aching romantic optimism: not bad for a piece of art disguised as shameless entertainment.
Dancing Queen runs till Sun, April 29 at Buddies, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com
Read a full interview with the cast of
Dancing Queen at fabmagazine.com/story/dancing-queen