Blue Wizard review (Belvoir, Sydney)

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It’s not the subtlest metaphor — a gay wizard from a gay planet lands on our planet — for the alienation and shame that an outsider can experience in a world not made for them. But when it’s worked with the subtlety and dexterity of Nick Coyle’s hilarious, subversive and spectacular one man show Blue Wizard, it’s a surprisingly powerful one.
Before leaving his home planet, where everyone is a gay wizard of a certain colour, the Blue Wizard (Coyle) won a competition, which sounds fairly similar to American Idol, to be the ambassador to Earth. When he arrives, things are not quite what he expected — his erotic welcome dance (which draws inspiration from Cher) is not the prelude to bigger and better things he was assured it would be, his hair is looking a little ragged and the gift he was to give to us earthlings proves to be particularly difficult.
The Blue Wizard valiantly tries to make the best of a bad situation — attempting to find the beauty in the deserted garbage heap he’s found himself in. He’s worryingly lost contact with his home planet and needs to eat only three things to survive — diamonds, cocaine and jizz, which are all in disastrously short supply here on earth.
Blue Wizard previously had a short season at PACT centre for emerging artists in 2013 and slides into Belvoir’s Downstairs Theatre effortlessly, with a bit of help from the theatre’s resident creatives Adena Jacobs as dramaturg and Ralph Myers as design consultant.
Coyle is writer, director and performer and it’s his own unique comedic sensibility which is the driving force. The references to sci-fi cinema (of course a gay alien would have a Scandanavian accent) and queer culture are right on the money and he’s crafted a well-rounded ‘outsider’ character struggling to make sense of the world around him. There’s also some excellent puppetry — although it would be helpful if ‘Meryl Streep’ would stop doing the same thing over and over again.
The Wizard’s costume, which features very small sequinned hot pants, sits right on the line between tacky and stunning. The set design is also brilliant, made up of piles of junk atop a mirrored floor with a mirrored ceiling hanging above. It not only allows the intimate space to feel expansive and unfamiliar, but gives lighting designer Damien Cooper the ability to create a particularly immersive experience with dazzling lasers.
You can feel Jacobs’ influence in the shape of the narrative and the subversion. I didn’t see the work’s initial season, so I can’t comment on any changes, but it’s now a taut, well-structured piece of theatre.
The work takes on an even greater resonance with quiet references to the AIDS crisis when Blue Wizard learns that his planet has been destroyed and his entire race wiped out. His adventure then turns into a desperate fight for survival.
Like the saddest disco songs (think Don’t Leave Me This Way or If I Can’t Have You), Blue Wizard is an explosion of glitter and euphoria, snatched from the jaws of defeat. It’s a perfect piece of theatre for Mardi Gras.
[box]Blue Wizard is at the Downstairs Theatre, Belvoir until March 15. Featured image by Lisa Tomasetti[/box]

2 responses to “Blue Wizard review (Belvoir, Sydney)

  1. This is clearly not the show I saw…in fact, the group I was with, attempting to hold desperately to the edict “Suspending disbelief boys bring joy” failed to find hardly a redeeming moment last Friday night. Yes, some interesting lighting; yes the first two minutes were dramatic; yes some poignant puppetry (although the repetitiveness far outweighed the empathy I managed to elicit from this stone cold heart; yes… actually no to almost everything else.
    No plot, no storey, no narrative…oh did I mention no story.
    All we got was a premise…”What if an alien from an all gay planet landed on earth?”
    Nick Coyle under another guise might well be hilarious but last Friday he was not; nor was he subversive… we’ve long gotten past the “lube ’em up folks for a gay old time…”…I think he’s misremembering the drunken dinner parties he’s had with a bunch of Queens… I too remember them well and in their time it was funny… not now sorry.
    Or I’m completely out of sync. My friends, though, valiantly attempted to make sense of it all… General conclusion: no meaning; no funny. Not worth the $40… or the time.
    We tried Nick. We tried so hard to have fun and like it. That’s why we came.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Philip. Did you read my review? I’m just wondering if it made the meaning in the work more apparent. I have no doubt that it’s loaded with meaning — that it’s a work with extraordinary depth, and I hope my review can help to illuminate some of that.

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