Last night I went to see ‘Passing on’ at the Teachers’ Club – my latest excursion to the 15th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. This was a co-production between the Acting Out theatre group and the Blue Heart Theatre company. Written by Sean Denyer and directed by Howard Lodge it tells the tale of a thirty-something gay couple Brian and Tom. Together for a decade they decide to venture into a brave new world – that of parenthood. Their friend Jane agrees to act as surrogate for the couple. There is a slight worry however. Having been adopted by his parents as a baby, Tom requests a background health check on his biological family – in case of any hereditary conditions; or potential health issues that might inform the decision as to which of the couple will be the sperm donor.
While waiting for the results of this genetics test, Jane falls pregnant. The lab results from the health check come back, turning their happy ever after reverie, into their worst nightmare.
This is a very interesting play exploring many complex issues – surrogacy; genetics; medical ethics; adoption; same sex parenting and euthanasia. The performances were strong and convincing by the lead actors Brian Gaughran (who plays the character of Brian as a rock of common sense and support) and Steve Kenneally (who gives a moving portrayal of Tom who should be looking forward to first time fatherhood with excitement but instead is facing a looming, potentially fatal health ordeal).
Rachel Fayne plays dual roles of the surrogate Jane (well-meaning but potentially intrusive) – and Mary (the outspoken, hilarious ‘howerya’ sister of Brian). The cast is completed by Shane Kavanagh who plays the doctor and social worker.
The set was a simple, with a threatening score playing in the background on the darkened stage, to indicate the narrative progression, with the lights coming up again as each chapter of the story unfolds.
The script was tight, moving at a good pace. I was engaged throughout the piece – it convincingly evoked the terror that a terminal illness can inflict. This was a thought provoking play and it’s easy to see why it has been included in the Gay Theatre Festival as well as the Brighton Fringe Festival next week.
Go see this one – you’ll not regret it. If it can move someone with a cold, cynical heart like myself close to tears, then it is clearly worth checking out.
It runs in Dublin every night until Saturday 19th May in The Teachers’ Club at 36 Parnell Square. Showtime is 7.30pm (as well as a 4pm matinee on Saturday). Ticket are a bargain at €15 and can be purchased on the door or at www.gaytheatre.ie.