Check out my review on The Music here.
It’s not easy to write a play about sexual violence. Ladies Day is the product of a trip by author Alana Valentine up to Broome, where she interviewed the local gay community about their town. It plays out in a series of dramatic scenes interspersed with sections where Alana — or her character in the play — sits down with the rest of the cast in one-on-one interviews. The story mostly follows Mike, a gay man up from Sydney as he goes to the Broome races in a dress and fascinator and is unexpectedly subjected to a brutal act of sexual violence.
Ladies Day does not convince. It’s full of distractions seemingly designed to convince you of its characters’ inauthenticity: jarring, misplaced songs; half-hearted, inappropriately timed humour; pointless fourth wall breaks that shatter any flow it might have otherwise possessed. There were only one or two scenes where we remember feeling like the words spoken to us came from real people instead of breezy forced fictions.
Furthermore, Ladies Day is yet another example of the terribly prevalent theatrical tradition of sad, dead gays. The tragic ending is not rendered more satisfying or poignant purely because those who have suffered are homosexual. Sexual violence in gay communities is an important topic which deserves proper treatment — and jokes about phones during violent, shocking stabbings in Ladies Day is not the way to do it.