An Obviously Foggot

Bastion Carboni's new play is a confrontational mess, but it's vital in its commentary on bigotry within gay communities

Exhibitionism

An Obviously Foggot

The Basement, 422 Congress (entrance on West Fifth)
www.poisonappleinitiative.com
Through April 13
Running time: 50 min.

An Obviously Foggot is angry theatre. That's not a surprise: Poison Apple Initiative's Bastion Carboni, who wrote, directed, and choreographed the performance, has written angry plays before. But this one, which takes on the internalized homophobia and transphobia inside LGBT communities, is downright confrontational.

Set inside a working gay bar (the bartenders continue taking orders during the performance), An Obviously Foggot has staging – the action happens all around the audience, in a concrete basement, often while loud music plays over the PA – that's designed to remove audiences from their comfort zones. For gay audience members, the play takes a safe place and introduces a violent depiction of uglier things they may have seen, heard, and said. For straight folks, it includes an expressed reminder that they're invading someone else's space just by walking down the stairs.

That aggressive push to make an audience uncomfortable extends to the performance itself. Largely a collection of related sketches, An Obviously Foggot wastes no time jumping from scene to scene. A PSA-style skit about Alan Turing, a father of modern computing who committed suicide after receiving hormone treatment to reduce his libido, follows a harsh dialogue about AIDS fetishization; an abstract dance sequence depicting Jeffrey Dahmer's predatory use of gay bars and the complicity of the police, set to Lady Gaga's "Boys Boys Boys," transitions into another straightforward setup; characters talk over one another while delivering hateful monologues about transgender people or older gay folks. If it ran for longer than it does, the performance would risk sensory overload.

An Obviously Foggot isn't a great play, at least in its current, workshopped form – there are too many confusing skits juxtaposed with on-the-nose examples of bigotry to be that – but it's a vital one. There are none of the appeals to a so-called traditional model of relationships that define so many of the portrayals of gay life in the media at the moment. You rarely see the depictions of generation-bending open relationships that exist in this play – which only makes it more important that these perspectives on gay culture are presented. Otherwise, it all gets smoothed into a mess of heteronormativity that ensures that any progress made on the front of gay rights doesn't apply to gay folks who don't conform to the "new normal."

And at its core, that's what An Obviously Foggot is about. It's a confrontational mess of dance and hate speech and sexuality and music, about a culture whose divisions-within-divisions are largely a mystery to those who know it best from the colors of their friends' Facebook icons. It says something important to both its gay and its straight audiences, but what it says to each of them is different. It's messy, but so are the issues with which it deals. It's more interesting, at this point, to see an ambitious, confrontational mess than a cleanly executed piece on a homogenously depicted gay culture that continues to spin the same wheels.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Austin theatre
Examining the Sins and Virtues of Hypermasculine Theatre
Examining the Sins and Virtues of Hypermasculine Theatre
When is violence in theatre too much?

Shanon Weaver, Dec. 9, 2016

Making Room to Play
Making Room to Play
Create Space Austin kicks off the drive to secure more performing venues in the city

Elizabeth Cobbe, April 15, 2016

More Arts Reviews
Austin Playhouse's <i>Copenhagen</i>
Austin Playhouse's Copenhagen
In the conversations of this Michael Frayn drama, we learn that history is broken, just like us

Laura Jones, April 19, 2019

Zach Theatre's <i>Matilda the Musical</i>
Zach Theatre's Matilda the Musical
With its memorable characters and energetic performances, this production connects adults with their inner child

Trey Gutierrez, April 19, 2019

More by Dan Solomon
The Time of Their Lives
The Time of Their Lives
Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane reflect on the 12 years they spent making 'Boyhood'

July 18, 2014

Exhibitionism
We Were Nothing
Poison Apple's latest, about a friendship affected by social media, provides little to engage with

Dec. 20, 2013

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

An Obviously Foggot, Austin theatre, Poison Apple Initiative, Bastion Carboni

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle