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The gay issue

There has been quite a debate over the wholly gay casting of Russell Davies’ latest offering It’s A Sin.

On the Radio 4 show Start The Week presented by Andrew Marr on Mondays Russell Davies defended the casting on the grounds that there was unfair prejudice to gay parts.

There should be, he argued, 50% of roles eligible to gay actors.

Andrew Marr made the point that there have been some fine performances of gay roles by straight actors, citing Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.

One could also mention Peter Finch in Sunday Bloody Sunday or Roger Allam in La Cage aux Folles.

That scourge of wokeism and PC, Rod Liddle, weighed in on this issue in his Spectator column with the sensible point of how do you actually cast just for gay actors.

You can hardly state in advance “part limited only to gay actors”.

There is a further point, of course, of suitable material.

Alan Hollinghurst and Sara Waters are well-known gay writers but a lot of their work has been already dramatised. Perhaps directors have to be more left field.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson may have to have a secret tryst , as do the two Cathys in Wuthering Heights.  

Captain Ahab might be a transgender woman with penis envy explaining the obsession with that whale.

A few years ago a friend of mine wrote a play performed at the Edinburgh Festival which was a comedy similar to Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner.

It was so well received on the opening night that it was nominated for a Fringe first.

Unfortunately the black actor made off with the box office proceeds.

When, at the end of the next performance, the actor appeared before the audience as it was leaving to declaim how badly he  was treated, the audience believed this was part of the drama.

I often thought my playwright friend should rewrite the play to incorporate this as in many ways the actual response of the white middle class cast was funnier and more meaningful than the play itself.

Could it also happen that an impoverished straight actor passes himself off as gay in order to get a role?

Now that too would make for an interesting drama if he/she was outed.

Recently I saw the film Carol starring Cate Blanchett.

It’s based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and her familiar theme of same sex relationships. Cate Blanchett, playing Carol, was superb as a rich woman about to get divorced in 50s New York with lesbian inclinations who seduces an ingénue shop girl.

As far I know Cate Blanchett has never come out as gay but was wholly convincing in her role. It’s called acting.

About Tim Holford-Smith

Despite running his architectural practice full-time, Tim is a frequent theatre-goer and occasional am-dram producer. More Posts