NOT TO be missed at the Town Hall next week is Who’s The Man?, a one-man musical drama, written and performed by Steven Sharpe, about growing up gay in Ireland.
Through music, short stories, and monologues Sharpe offers a fresh and funny perspective on the experience of being gay and his wit and candour will appeal equally to gay and straight audiences alike.
The show is based around stock questions people have asked Sharpe over the years about being gay. “There’s always the same three or four questions you get asked, from really nice ones to really smutty ones,” Sharpe tells me. “It’ll be things like ‘When did you know?’, ‘Did you tell your parents?’, ‘Did they freak out?’, and ‘How does it all work?’
“It always gets to sex! After a while the questions are like ‘When was your first time’, ‘Did you know what to do?’, ‘How do gay people actually have sex?’ I think it’s funny that people can be very curious and upfront about asking gay people these kind of questions whereas I’d never go up to a girl and ask her about her sex life.”
Who’s The Man? also addresses delicate and difficult topics, but with refreshing directness and honesty.
“A lot of early sexual experiences for gay fellas in particular would tend to be secretive,” says Sharpe. “When I was growing up the only way to have any experience and not let anyone find out was often through seedy ways. For instance, one of my exes lost his virginity on the side of a road in the back seat of a car to some 29-year-old he went out with when he was 15.
“People don’t really talk about these kind of stories because they’re jarring and seem to give gay people a bad name. A lot of gay people my age have had those kind of experiences of losing their virginity to someone older who might have been taking advantage of them but at the same time when you’re 15/16 you’d have sex with anything!
“It’s funny, a lot of straight people lose their virginity around that age and it’s usually with their first boyfriend or girlfriend but gay people don’t tend to have their first relationship until they’re in their twenties so there’s a kind of gap there.”
Sharpe declares that part of the impulse to write the show was to counter certain gay stereotypes.
“The show is partly written for straight people to address their questions but another area I wanted to address is this whole idea of the LGBT community and the gay scene,” he says. “I never really felt part of that, it never represented anything about me – I don’t enjoy going to gay bars, I don’t wear pink, all these stereotypes which, when I was growing up I really felt the need to conform to whereas now that I am older I can say ‘What was I thinking? That does not represent me at all’.
“Another reason for doing the show is to get beyond these images of cabaret and gay pride parades. I wanted to highlight the point that it is really difficult to grow up gay to this day, and it tends to get glossed over. You tend to be automatically put in a category, so I wanted to do a show that represented me without that rainbow flag and topless men!”
Who’s The Man? is illuminating, hugely entertaining, and often very moving and marks Sharpe out as a real rising talent. See it at the Town Hall on Monday December 10 and Tuesday 11 at 8pm.
Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie