Steven Dawson, from Australia’s Out Cast Theatre, is the writer and director behind The Importance of Being Earnest as Performed by Three F*cking Queens & a Duck, a production that claims will have 'Oscar spinning in his grave.' He also acts in the show. Features Writer Alexander Woolley caught up with him to find out more.
Most of my comedy writing sounds like the TV series Vicious – only I was there first!
Tell us about the show.
Three appalling actors with the least amount of talent try to conquer Wilde's classic, but with their allotted time slot dwindling, suspect relationships and massive egos little is left of the work or their integrity.
What is the state of gay theatre in Australia? How does it compare to the situation in the UK?
Minimal and sparse. There is not much original work and no support from the arts funding organisations, but we struggle on. We have a very small population so the opportunities are thin on the ground unless you create them yourself.
The UK has a lot more options for gay theatre that I can see and it’s not too shy about the product, though I wish there wasn't so much of the Benny Hill/John Inman variety of camp to make it more palatable to the masses.
You use some elements of Polari in the show. Why do you do this?
I do know Polari well from all those Kenneth Williams Round The Horne radio shows but I did not think I used anything like it in this show. Obviously it must have filtered in. My comedy writing has always had a bit more of a British feel about it. Most of my comedy writing sounds like the TV series Vicious – only I was there first! Lots of droll put-down humour but it’s always tongue in cheek.
More generally, the language of the show is rather colourful. Tell us about what influenced you to write in this fashion.
A lot of the comedy I have written in the past thirty years is in the same vein. If you surround yourself with queens it rubs off a little. Two camp actors – you can't help it. I based these two characters on Kenneth Connors and Hugh Paddick from an episode of Blackadder, a chance meeting with Frank Thring many years ago, and some hammy amateur theatre actors I have met along the way.
Is Oscar Wilde spinning in his grave? Wouldn't he quite like the show?
I hope he would be totally offended to see what we have done. And of course some of the best writing in it is still all his. I think he would like the royalties.