A Boy and a Bean – Nick Atkins addresses the questions you didn’t know you were asking. (Theatre Review)


A Boy and a Bean

PACT Centre for Emerging Artists

Feb 12 – 15.

A Boy and a Bean tickets for sale here.

I as talking to a very bright, warm-hearted person in the last twelve months (politically pro same-sex marriage) about the talents of Heath Leger and the sadness of his death. I expressed pleasure in watching him perform, however my friend expressed the opposite. I then argued that he was great in Brokeback Mountain and then my straight friend (a man in his late 60’s) said something curious. He said “but they don’t act like real homosexuals in that film. In my experience, that’s not how men act when they’re alone together.” He was surprised and shocked when I suggested he had no experience of what happens when homosexual men are alone together, in fact he was so shocked he retreated into a thoughtful silence.

Why is it, that even liberal-minded heterosexuals feel they can speak for the gay community? Would we feel equally as comfortable with a gay person telling us about how our intimate sexual experience should look with our wife or husband? Where do we get the idea that the straight know relationship and the GBLT community are catching up, or learning? Why is the legitimacy of gay relationship determined by the straight community anyway? Why is it assumed gay people need to act like straight people in order to ‘be taken seriously’ and equally strange, why is it assumed GBLT folk don’t act like straight people, who pretty much cover every facet of relationship, poison or pure, that can be manifest? It is strange that we feel that straight people must work out the GBLT problem and must come up with solutions to it, when the problem isn’t with the GBLT community, its with the straight community who insist on perpetually enforcing their peculiar brand of relationship on the world to the extent where they need so much reinforcement of their perverse views, they will perform the worst acts of censorship on a community about which they already know nothing. I know this question has been asked a hundred times, but what exactly are we straight people so afraid of?

A Boy and a Bean is a series of beautifully written, apparently disparate narratives that come together to form a cohesive whole. They centre around the meaning of words, the giants that dictate our lives and the mini, almost daily resistance of the powerless as they desperately try not to be broken down by rules that control their life that they had no say in creating. In this case, it is the daily life of two gay men who fall in love and the way the straight narrative imposes itself on their relationship. As Leonard Cohen would say, it is the “homicidal bitchin’ that goes down in every kitchen” where the more horrible forms of violence are performed and projected, those wars being waged in our communities that leave us with a walking wounded that become so damaged that in some cases, they even lose the ability to properly care for themselves. It is this war that strips an individual of their creative impulse, their passion for learning and their drive for achievement, leaving them with the daily battle of making it through to sleep intact enough to be able to get through the night without crying.

The delightful Nick Atkins understands these problems and raises all these questions and more in his charming, gentle and deliciously lovely A Boy and a Bean. This is a production that will bring a tear to the eye and, as strangely happens when we pause to listen to the experience of someone else, gives rise to understandings and informative statements that reveal a world that runs in tandem to your own; a world deeply affected by the daily lives of the privileged straight who have no idea what they may be projecting, or how powerful their sideways glance might be. Nick Atkins is a talented writer with a firm grasp of his words and an unyielding work ethic to match. He is a relentless voice wrapped up in an immaculate talent that pierces the iron-strong perspectives of the observer with an uncanny understanding of what his detractors are thinking. He turns this ferocious intellect on the gay marriage debate and the political struggles of the GLBT community in  – at least at this stage – getting their voices heard. The questions you didn’t know you were asking are raised and answered in this beautiful production that is a lyrical and verbal joy as much as it is anything else. The man really understands a sentence, and it is total ear candy to be given the opportunity to watch and listen to his beautiful performance for its hour or so running time.