Welcome to the Prince’s Arms: ‘Queers’ Review


16 February 2024

Canberra Youth Theatre is dedicated to raising the voices of young people, and helping them have their say about theatre, the arts, and everything in between. Our Young Critics program provides emerging voices the platform to share reviews such as the one below. The views expressed are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Canberra Youth Theatre or its staff.

Jade Breen, one of our Canberra Youth Theatre artists, reviews the Everyman Theatre production of Queers, curated by Mark Gatiss at ACTHub, Kingston.

Photography by Ben Appleton / Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

Welcome to The Prince’s Arms! Take a seat, enjoy your drinks and take in the fresh scent of carnations; a welcome reminder of the rich journey you are about to embark on.

Originally curated for British television by Mark Gatiss, Queers highlights a century’s worth of love, loss and heartbreak through seven provocative and insightful monologues. Steph Roberts and Jarrad West’s direction brings the work to life, celebrating evolving social attitudes and milestones in queer history.

From the moment you first enter ACTHub until you reach your car at the end of the night, the audience is inextricably weaved right into the centre of this immersive atmosphere. The pub setting provides the perfect space for each character to reveal themselves, the actors sitting amongst the audience like ghosts waiting for their turn in the spotlight. While each actor gains this opportunity in their lengthy monologues, the cast should be applauded for their committed ensemble work, contributing to an unmatched theatrical intimacy.

The monologues coexist in beautiful harmony, the intertextuality between them stringing together a collective narrative reflective of the interconnectedness of the queer experience. Each actor holds their own in the space, even in their moments of reflection and focus; however credit must be granted to Joel Horwood and Joe Dinn for their masterful connection to both the work and audience. 

Horwood takes on “The Actor” in a stunning portrayal of the frustration and anger that comes with the constant typecast of the dying gay. The resonance of this particular monologue is undeniable, despite the original context of the 1980’s. Horwood’s portrayal speaks volumes about the persisting stereotypes and representation (or lack thereof) that still exists today.

Conversely, Joe Dinn brings a beautiful conclusion to the play with “The Groom”. His giddy delight as he rehearses his vows provides a nice juxtaposition to the previous tone of the show, offering up a hope and excitement for a brighter, accepting future for queer people and allies alike.

Ultimately, the work leaves the audience with an appreciation and intimate understanding of the endless obstacles that impede the quest for queer agency. As the theatre landscape advances towards a commonplace of intersectionality, this experience calls into question just how far along we are in terms of queer representation. Textually, some of the stories seemed stuck in the stereotypes of queer history, perpetuating rather than reclaiming certain elements of our past. Additionally, the inclusion of more queer actors would improve the overall representation and resonance of the piece. While the celebration and acknowledgement of history is integral to our culture, it cannot exist without proper representation, a strength noted in the creative team. It is a hope echoed amongst the community, pioneered by work such as Queers, that our future as an industry is one of intersectionality, where every identity and story has a welcoming place on the stage.

Jade Breen is a proud nonbinary artist with experience in theatre, film, and circus. Their favourite roles include Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird (Canberra Rep 2019), Flounder in The Little Mermaid (Ickle Pickle 2020), and Gillian in Dags (Canberra Youth Theatre 2022). Aside from theatre, Jade has recently dived into filmmaking, their short film She/…They? winning best under 18 and best student film at the Lights Canberra Action film festival. For years now, Canberra Youth Theatre has become their second home and they have loved the opportunity to develop their craft amongst such a passionate and committed group of young people.