Writer, actor and activist Timothy Conigrave’s best-selling memoir “Holding the Man” (winner of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction and listed as one of the “100 Favorite Australian Books” by the Australian Society of Authors) is one of Australia’s great love stories — a breathtakingly honest, achingly funny account of a 15-year relationship that weathered disapproval, separation, temptation and, ultimately, death. The stage version by Tommy Murphy captures all its special magic. Producers Nick Hardcastle and Nate Jones launch their newly formed Australian Theatre Company with the Los Angeles premiere of “Holding the Man,” featuring an all-Australian cast and directed by veteran Hollywood acting coach Larry Moss, at the Matrix Theatre.
The course of teenage love rarely runs smooth, but it is a white-water adventure if you are a gay boy in an all-boys school in 1970s Melbourne with a crush on the captain of the football team. Despite the odds, Tim and John fall in love and for 15 years their relationship survives everything life throws at it — the separations, the discriminations, the temptations, the jealousies and the losses — until the only problem love can’t solve threatens to part them. The play’s title refers to a transgression that incurs a penalty in Australian rules football.
Holding the Man smashed box office records for Australia’s Griffin Theatre Company when it premiered in 2006, garnering three “Best Play” awards, including the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Award, Australian Writers’ Guild Award (AWGIE) and Aussietheatre.com Award. The production went on to complete four sold-out seasons in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House and Belvoir, then moved to the Brisbane Powerhouse and Melbourne Theatre Company before opening in London’s West End. Last year, La Boite Theatre Company brought the original production back to Brisbane for yet another run. Variety calls Holding the Man “a theatrical triumph,” the Australian says, “wickedly funny,” and the Melbourne Herald Sun gives it “10 stars out of 10… a must see.”
Culture Spot LA readers can win free tickets to the show on Thursday, May 22, at 8 p.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Holding the Man” in the subject line to be entered in the drawing.
“Holding the Man” continues through June 29 at the Matrix Theatre, 7657 Melrose Ave., LA 90046. Tickets are $34.99. Call (323) 960-7735, or visit www.plays411.com/holdingtheman.