Edinburgh Review: Black Faggot, Assembly Roxy

black faggotIf we’re going to talk about gay rights, we might as well do it as loudly and as obscenely as possible.

And that’s exactly what Black Faggot does, but not at the expense of nuance. When it screams, it screams truth. Dealing with the often unexplored ways in which race intersects with sexuality, and indeed racism with homophobia, Samoan playwright Victor Rodgers’ Black Faggot is a powerful and poignant piece about gay identity.

The piece is set against New Zealand’s recent passing of the same-sex marriage bill, as well as the controversies surrounding the Destiny Church’s militant condemnation of homosexuality. A veritable plethora of issues are covered in Black Faggot, so much so that’s difficult to keep up with its relentless pace. From the incompatibilities of homosexuality and religion to dispelling the myth that being gay is a choice, from coming out to your family to the issue of your boyfriend accidentally ejaculating on your expensive wallpaper, the piece seesaws between intensity and hilarity.

The characters are diverse and colourful: a young closeted boy desperate not to be gay, an out and proud gay man, a delightfully camp fa’fafine – a gender in its own right in Samoa – and many more in between. The main narrative that centres around James, and his inner torment and refusal to accept his homosexuality is sensitively handled and profoundly moving.

In this two-man show, the characters and relationships are well developed and believable, undoubtedly due to the cast’s immense talent for character portrayal. Between them they flit from butch to camp, from hypermasculine rage to outrageous flamboyancy with surprising ease. 

Showing as part of a programme of New Zealand works at the Edinburgh Fringe, Black Faggot is literally laugh out loud funny, but beware the shedding of a few tears too. Be prepared to come away well and truly moved by this vital work.

Black Faggot plays at Assembly Roxy until 25 August 2014 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.