Midsumma, Australia's annual queer arts and culture festival has kicked off its first week with a fabulous bang. Writers' Block Theatre is staging its new production, The Boy I Paid For, at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne's CBD.
It's Christmas Eve and Keith (Jake Matricardi) hires escort Beau (Jonny Kinnear) to be his companion for the evening. We entered the theatre first and Keith was already waiting, nervously pacing between his couch, his mirror and checking his phone with a shaking knee - we could immediately identify his awkwardness and anxiety. In strolls Beau, six-packed, tanned to the nines and with an Irish accent to boot.
The show follows the two during the course of their evening together. Although on the surface they seem polar opposite, they soon delve deep into their insecurities - discussing everything from sex, body image, perceptions of beauty and Marina Prior's lack of punctuality at the annually televised Carols by Candlelight.
Wayne Stellini has directed a fantastic two-hander - stripping his characters, both literally and emotionally, of how the outside world would likely perceive them. Matricardi and Kinnear have little boundaries as actors, and their chemistry and comic timing bounce off each other effortlessly. Stellini has done well in humanising a character with a taboo career path, and Kinnear brings a humbleness to Beau once the layers start unravelling. However, it's Matricardi's Keith that really shines here. With the guidance of monologues to flesh out his past, we seemed to receive more of an insight into how and why Keith is the way he is.
The Boy I Paid For is equally hilarious as it is confronting and we highly recommend you don't miss this one! More shows have been added and tickets are selling fast. Get in quick.