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August 20, 2018 | by  | in Theatre |
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Mating in Captivity

I will always be happy to see queer stories on stage. No matter what shape they take, they are defying the norms of heterosexuality or cisnormativity, and that continues to make me lean in for more. Mating in Captivity had the potential for a beautiful queer story, inside the captivity of Annie and Rob’s heterosexual relationship and their one-bedroom apartment. Page, writer and director, presents a somewhat time old awkward interaction, over one very long night.

What happens when your current partner meets your ex? What’s the protocol? What’s off limits? Should you do MDMA together? All vital questions that plague Rob, Annie, and Jacob throughout the play. Even though the play is set in a one-bedroom apartment, it contains a high level of comic physicality, such as Annie chasing Jacob around the room saying “Look at my tits! What do you think of them?” I was impressed with the actor’s commitment to this element of the storytelling and wish them luck for the nights that go on, it just wouldn’t be the same without it. The play largely touched on themes around sexuality and attraction, but at its heart it has some very soft and emotional themes around intimacy, love, and what happens to them over time. Page’s actors presented these complexities perfectly, every one of them giving their all on stage.
Page has written some great jokes — mostly about sex — into this play. All the characters jest with one another about sexual conduct throughout the play. Some will say these kinds of jokes are easy to get laughs off, but sometimes that’s just what you need to contrast with raw emotional depths being presented on stage, even the subtextual ones, in this case. Shout out the stage designer for making the flat number “69”.
If you’re putting on a gay play, I want you to go all the way. I want my identity to be affirmed to hell and back. Mating in Captivity sits on the edges of this but left me wanting for much more. The Bats websites says about the play: “The year’s wildest, wittiest whirlwind of a love battle… Outrageously racy… Sparkling… Gay!” (His Girl Friday, 1940) Well, a bit gay. It’s complicated.” And it was a bit gay. But it felt like the heterosexual’s version of a gay play. Rob’s queer experience was something hidden away in his past, that his partner didn’t know about. The fact one of his exes was a man, rather than all being women, like Annie assumed, caused tension between the two of them. My kind of queer theatre is where we get to live out our queerest dreams on stage. Forget the reality of where we are in society and be free for an evening.
I feel that Mating in Captivity reflected a common and almost banal experience many queer people go through. This is okay though! It stills gets people thinking, laughing together, and all in all addressing their own internal bias. Which, in my opinion, is the best thing you can want from an audience. Plus, the story being presented is a very real one for many people, and I think that’s important to note.
If you drink, I imagine this play would go along nicely with your chosen alcoholic beverage and few a friends — definitely not ideal for a first date. Page knows how to make his jokes hit, and his actors know how to serve them. I would have liked to feel more satisfied at the end, not left with more questions about who wants who, but I think it’s easiest if I put them to bed for myself, and just imagine the romantic queer ending I was after.

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