“It’s only terrorism if it doesn’t work. When it works, we call it a revolution.” An out lesbian state senator is up for re-election. Her female opponent is a moderate conservative who’s aligned herself with right-wing extremists. They’re locked in a tight race in which each side dog-whistles to its base and any event can become instantaneously politicized. When a gay man is bashed with a baseball bat and left to die, his ex-boyfriend, a campaign aide for the incumbent senator, is enraged. But it’s the unwillingness of his boss to label it a hate-crime that tips him over the edge. Teaming up with his best friend, the two men embark on a vendetta of sabotage and assassinations, reasoning that if gays aren’t respected enough to win equal justice and rights, fear will achieve what good intentions and politics cannot. Vicious, deliciously subversive, brutal and breathtakingly funny, this dystopian revenge tragedy pushes every button.
Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing the senior capstone project for Bellarmine University’s theater majors, ANGRY FAGS, performed at the black box theater on campus. The audience sat on risers, the performance space was very intimate and cozy.
The show revolves around two main characters, Bennett (Logan McNeeley) and Cooper (Seth Kelly), while they deal with the anger and helplessness that follows the assault of one of their friends at a bar in Atlanta, Georgia.
To quote from the program’s synopsis: “Cooper presents the argument that no one is granted the rights they deserve until people are a little afraid of them. And no one is afraid of gay guys. Not yet.” In a city where hate crime laws are not in effect, Bennett and Cooper decide it’s better to take revenge into their own hands. Guns, sex, and murder are all on the table here.
The play was two acts, nearly three hours total, but it certainly didn’t feel like it. More like a fast-paced thriller, this production kept me on the edge of my seat until the final bows.
The set, designed by Haley Mahaffey, was created on two levels. The upper level was modeled into the stylish living room of a modern apartment, while the lower level changed constantly throughout the play. It began as a park where a picnic is taking place, but it also became a senate office, a bathroom, a bathhouse, and a hospital, among other things. The stage crew did a great job at flawlessly transitioning the space every time there was a scene change.
Each actor is worth noting, but standouts include Seth Kelly as Cooper and Kevin Haas as Adam. The high caliber performances from both of these actors were captivating and exhilarating. Still, each member of the seven-character cast each had their standout moments. Director Katherine Krutsick put together an amazing show the seamlessly blended both recorded and live theater elements.
This play, originally written by Topher Payne, touches on a tragic reality that faces too many people in the LGBTQ+ community: What happens to those of us who can’t fight back? How much violence is too much violence? While the play itself pokes at the dramatic answers, one central line in the story sums it up the best: “It doesn’t get better. We have to MAKE it better.”
ANGRY FAGS ran January 20th through the 22nd. The director and producer were not available for comment.