By Marianne Daly
Published July 25, 2019
"Bungalow" is Sky Gilbert's new play, which features two men with little in common getting to know each other better as they have many conversations on their shared front porch.
One side of the double bungalow is newly renovated. A young gentleman and his off-screen life partner move into this new-to-them old neighbourhood, and quickly discover the neighbour - with whom they share a wall and the porch - is overly friendly and always drunk.
This manner of looking at the complex issue of gentrification is a great premise. The first ten minutes are funny and interesting, as the audience is first meeting the two main characters. Lloyd is the "ungentrified" character: already drunk, but still drinking more, while Kiefer is a quiet man who just wants to sit on his porch and read his novel.
At first it seems that Lloyd and Kiefer have different values: when Kiefer starts to think maybe Lloyd abused his ex-wife, Kiefer repeats the platitude that you should never, ever hit a woman. This sentiment is drowned out by Lloyd ranting about how his offstage ex escalates his anger; according to him, she provokes and deserves abuse.
If this had been the only offensive and misogynist tirade, it could have been taken as a one-off. Unfortunately, the conversations between the two men degenerated into topics that were all shock and no value. For example, a great deal of the dialogue is devoted to misogynistic and explicit talk about oral sex. Not only is fellatio the only thing women are good for, it is also a man's privilege. If that entitlement isn't satisfied, seeking satisfaction elsewhere is justified.
If Kiefer was supposed to show a different set of values, then the lines and character were too weak, and he always seemed to - albeit more passively - agree with Lloyd. It also turns out the two men have more in common than we thought: they are both misogynists.
In addition to being offensive to women, this play also insults less privileged people by choosing to represent the "ungentrified" with a one-dimensional, low-life, unemployed drunk on disability living with a hooker.
What starts off as a really good premise - to explore some issues around the theme of gentrification - degenerates quickly into attempts for cheap laughs about sex that were offensive and unoriginal. I enjoyed the first ten minutes, hoped it would get better for the next ten, and spent the rest of the time wishing it was over.
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