Leopard Print Loincloth challenges norms and stereotypes, presenting feasible alternatives
With sold-out performances each of its five nights, Leopard Print Loincloth - the creative name a bit of a mouthful - is a Midsumma crowd-pleaser, perhaps especially among the younger clientele. This mostly entertaining, albeit drawn-out, late show, alluringly promises adult content, coarse language and nudity, and takes us on a verbally acrobatic and physically daring rocky ride. Six young men engage in relentlessly witty and snappy dialogues while they explore their own sexuality and comment on what it means to be a man in a society which has long dictated that men behave according to set norms and represent typically male, preferably macho, attributes and behaviours. Challenging the hetero stereotype, this work written by Jake Stewart (himself making an appearance in the last scene after having considerately provided the audience with popsicles at every opportune moment, quenching our thirsty throats) and directed by Dominic Weintraub (who unconventionally introduces the show once it has already taken off), rather, presents alternatives while it “examines the requirements, expectations and idiosyncrasies that come with manhood.”
The show both promotes and normalises a stepping away from sexual expectations while it embraces gay relationships with all their potential and inherent complexities. The ongoing, often strenuous dialogue between hetero norm and gay “abnormality”, is momentarily spiced up by nude acts and the crew spends at least half of the time on stage naked or half naked – with one of the absolute highlights being a superbly entertaining, somewhat awkward, striptease that has the audience reeling with laughter. While the visual focus on penises coupled with frequent penis jokes leaves more to be desired, the show does a good job of highlighting the shortcomings of a (male) body that fails to convince unless accompanied by brains. As insightfully explained, by a reflective Jake Stewart, “To the most official extent yet, men are terrible. And this puts men in an awkward spot... When men have something to contribute to analyses of their gender’s villainy, their offerings are often disregarded as tone-deaf, unwelcome excuses.”
The second part of the show, following on a brief intermission, is both dynamic and hardcore and features a much welcome coming together of both body and mind. At once comical and reflective dialogues and scenes speak universal truths, and writer and director cleverly play with notions of reality and fiction when in their “episodic jog through the prickly field of contemporary Australian masculinity” they allow the two to cross over and merge into one. With that, the external becomes internal and the play becomes reality in an altogether refreshing manner. A meta-play with plenty of energetic potential, Leopard Print Loincloth most definitely delivers and leaves us in a light-hearted, feisty and exuberant mood.
Dates: Tues 4 - Sat 8 February, 2020
Times: Tues - Sat 9pm
Duration: 110 Minutes (with interval) Venue: Theatre Works - 14 Acland St, St Kilda