Billed as a ‘queer manifesto against Grindr’, Looking for Fun is one of the new plays showcased at the Paradok Platform. Written and performed by Conor O’Cuinn, it explores the tensions between gay sexual freedom, guilt, safety and the cosiness of long-term relationships through a multi-layered script where the jumbled thoughts and dating experiences of the central figure are created with an uncompromising truth and refusal to either sugar-coat or vilify hook-up culture itself.
A queer manifesto against Grindr: raw, real, from-the-heart stuff
O’Cuinn offers an unshowy and horribly believable performance, with no easy answers offered either within the script or his very visceral characterisation. His character starts and finishes at the Sexual Health Clinic where the disembodied voice of a nurse talks him through the lonely journey of pills, jabs and tests that have become part and parcel of his sex life. This sense of solitude pervades the whole piece, with O’Cuinn’s fearless performance showing a vulnerable soul achingly isolated from others and even himself within a brave new culture which has been sold as one of autonomy but which proves fraught with unspoken rules and expectations.
The narrative juggles a familiar enough story: how we all struggle to reconcile our various personas, and a search for whatever we each deem to constitute human connection. It is packed with all the contradictions and juxtapositions of any dating scene, but these are magnified through the prismatic paradox of how historic gay shame has coloured the sexual growth of a community still coming to terms with its hard-won legitimacy. Similarly, the central character is at odds as much with himself as the kaleidoscopic, ever-changing world around him: his ‘twink’ status both his passport and his penance… his glut of opportunities swiftly becoming something of a cage.
O’Cuinn cuts a winsome onstage figure, and the passion threaded throughout his performance is raw and real. This is from-the-heart stuff and a powerful indictment on the risks taken in the search for just a moment of symbiosis.