The Chemsex Monologues – Adelaide Fringe
E-Interview conducted by Fatema Sitabkhan
- ‘an extraordinary tapestry of pleasure and pain, woven together with wit and weight by a master wordsmith’ – Gay Times
- ‘an amazingly well written and performed insight’ London Theatre 1
- ‘Peppered with rich humour and entertaining on many levels … engrossing, strikingly thought-provoking work’ – Act Drop
- ‘hard hitting and tough to watch’ – West End Wilma
- ‘An incredibly powerful, moving and funny piece of writing, superbly performed throughout.’ – EQView
- ‘gold standard theatre. The Chemsex Monologues will make you laugh, cry, think, love, hurt and hope.’ – QX Magazine
- ‘intense and thought provoking scenes … go see this if you possibly can!’ – Jack the Lad
With their much-anticipated Adelaidean (and Australian) debut, we had the opportunity to conduct an e-interview with Rich Watkins, Patrick Cash, and Luke Davies. Read our excerpt below:
Tell us about how your play achieved the success and recognition in London.
The Chemsex Monologues received a number of hit reviews when it was performed in London in May 2016, and again in August. It was also commissioned to be performed in Manchester as part of their Pride 2016 celebrations. The 2016 production has also been nominated for a Boyz Award (Best Play/Musical 2016), and we are currently awaiting the result. Fingers crossed!
The Adelaide Fringe production of The Chemsex Monologues was previewed in London this past weekend to two sold-out houses! The show was very well-received.
How did The Chemsex Monologues come into being?
The Chemsex Monologues was originally commissioned as ‘evening entertainment’ for the first ever European Chemsex Forum, held here in London 2016. The play was a means of showing the emotional truth of human beings caught up in the world of chemsex that was being discussed academically each day. It was inspired by sexualised use of drugs, such as mephedrone, G and crystal meth, becoming increasingly widespread within the UK gay male community.
How did you get involved with Adelaide Fringe 2017?
Richard Watkins, who performed in the London staging of The Chemsex Monologues in 2016, first had the idea of taking the show to Australia. He had heard lots of wonderful things about Adelaide Fringe, and so, after we liaised with Luke Davies (the director of the Chemsex Monologues), it was decided that we’d be working with a great, dedicated cast to ensure we send over a theatrical treat to Australia! None of the cast have performed at Adelaide Fringe before, except for Remy Moynes, who has previously performed in Melbourne and Sydney.
Have you been to Australia before? If so, which places have you visited? If not, what places are you hoping to visit?
Dragonflies Theatre have never performed in Australia, so this is a real adventure for all of the cast! As well as Adelaide Fringe, the cast will be doing a week run of the show at the Blood Moon Theatre in Sydney from 22-25 March. Details for that production can be found here.
Is your play based on real-life events that occurred in real life?
The play is primarily a work of creative fiction. The characters of Nameless, Fag Hag Cath and Daniel the Sexual Health Worker sadly do not exist in real life. However, I did work within the gay nightlife arena of London for two years, so I’ve seen the highs, and lows, of mephedrone, chemsex and chillouts firsthand. Working in sexual health, I’ve seen the ugly side as well – sexual assault, addiction, breakdowns etc. These real experiences feed into building a truthful art world.
As a first-time play attendee, what should we expect from your show?
Narrative drive, and humour. Of course I (Patrick Cash) would say that being the writer, but I’ve tried to construct each monologue so that it’s a proper, suspenseful story that engages and surprises. It’s definitely not going to be an actor droning on at you “woe is me, and woe is my woeful chems use.” The play is dark in places, but there are plenty of funny parts too – because real people taking drugs are not crystal meth poster caricatures, they crack (pun intended) jokes.
We know that your play is founded by Patrick & Luke, but who are the faces behind “The Chemsex Monologues” – how did you decide to put this play together?
David Stuart, an international chemsex expert (who is actually Australian himself!) asked Patrick to write The Chemsex Monologues for the European Chemsex Forum. I then got in touch with Luke, with whom I’d put on two plays already, and asked him if he’d like to direct. We assembled a cast from amazing actors we knew, one of whom was Richard Watkins. After we had a successful run at the King’s Head Richard suggested it came to Australia – and here we are!
With regards to this particular production and the “faces” you will see on stage, we are thrilled to have a superlative cast. Here are some further details on each of them:
- Richard Watkins – Producer of The Chemsex Monologues, you will also see him on stage. Having trained at the MTA, Richard has also taken short courses at RADA and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He appeared in the two London runs of The Chemsex Monologues in 2016. Other credits include A Flea In Her Ear (Tabard Theatre), Tolkien The Musical (Arts Theatre), Do You Have A Secret Crush? (Lost Theatre) and Measure for Measure (White Bear). Television credits include EastEnders (BBC) and Inside The Court of Henry VIII (PBS). As well as London, he has performed in Italy, Turkey and Wales.
- Damien Killeen – President of the Gay Men’s Sexual And Mental Health charity “Impulse London”. He is also the manager of famous London Gay bar “KU Bar”. A graduate from Rose Bruford Drama School, Damien is also a founding member of the Arcola Theatre’s Queer Collective. Notable sold-out productions to his name include Mae West’s ‘The Drag’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and the Dragonflies Theatre’s first ever protection – ‘The Clinic’. For his performance in ‘The Drag’, he was named by The Times as an actor with “a great professional future”
- Remy Moynes – After graduating from Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Musical Theatre, Remy went on to train at Mountview Academy and The MTA, London. Recently, she has appeared in Titus Andronicus and The Taming of the Shrew with Arrows and Traps Theatre Company (New Wimbledon Studio). As well as working on new musicals like Dates 1 to 10 (Landor Theatre) and Spooky Noises (Workshop, Umbrella Rooms), Remy has toured Australia with the cabaret Anything You Can Do (Camelot Lounge/Butterfly Club) and performed on the concept album for new musical Celia. Having spent much of the last few years on work in Shakespeare, like Much Ado About Nothing and The Winter’s Tale (Lion and Unicorn Theatre), Remy can’t wait to work on such an important piece of new writing and share it with new audiences in London and Australia.
- Richard Unwin – Richard Unwin trained at East 15 Acting School in London, England. He graduated with a BA in Acting in 2002. Highlights of his career, alongside numerous plays and short films, include six summer seasons performing with the Cambridge Shakespeare Company, appearing opposite Anthony Head (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) in a feature film version of Macbeth, and taking on several roles in Big Finish Productions’ acclaimed range of BBC licensed Doctor Who audio dramas. He has just completed a role in Inside… Kensington Palace for the UK’s Channel 5, and will be taking on the part of Prince John in Runestone Pictures’ feature film version of Robin Hood later in 2017. Richard will be making a special appearance in Sydney with The Doctor Who Club of Australia on March 3rd. Details here.
It’s been mentioned that you are interested in outreach or healthcare organizations to whom this production might appeal. Have you found any sources yet?
We are collaborating with Feast and Mars Bar in Adelaide, and are thrilled to have their support! We are also keen to connect with any local Adelaide LGBT+ outreach or healthcare organisations, as we expect they will be particularly interested in the play’s subject matter.
The Chemsex Monologues will be performing at the German Club on Flinders Street from March 7 – 19. Tickets to the show can be found here – book now or risk missing out on one of the most anticipated shows of the Adelaide Fringe.