Review: 'Bare'


By: Karin Sofia Johansson

Just So’s production of Bare as directed by Linus Erbach and produced by Millie Postle, deals with everything from forbidden gay love to teenage pregnancies and depression, and it does so with a mix of funny charm and respectful understanding of the confused and complex characters that are trying to find their way through senior year. The plot of Bare follows the story of Jason (Peter Farasovsky) and Peter (Dougal Murray), two seniors at a catholic boarding school who keep their relationship secret from everyone around them, including Peter’s naive yet well meaning mother who cannot bear Peter’s confession as he gradually is emboldened to accept who he truly is. The tension builds as the story is told against the backdrop of the school's production of Romeo and Juliet, where Jason is Romeo, Peter is Mercutio and Ivy (Stephanie Herron), who has her eyes set on Jason, is Juliet. The impossible love in the classic play parallels that of Jason and Peter, and the rehearsal where Ivy is late and Peter takes over her lines warms the heart of any hopeless romantic. Yet in a catholic school queer bliss does not last long. At the climactic (in every sense of the word) end of act I, Peter and Ivy have got together, and as Ivy’s pregnancy with Jason is revealed so is the relationship between him and Peter. Nonetheless, as Jason finally confesses his love to Peter before their performance of Romeo and Juliet you think that perhaps this has a happy ending after all. Alas, we all know too well how the story of the star crossed lovers goes; Jason has purchased poison from the school dealer and in the middle of the performance he dies on stage in Peter’s arms. 


The raw sincerity and brutal sadness of the show is wonderfully captured by the performances of the ensemble, and the consistently fantastic singing is the soul of this show. Although the mics were a bit quiet in the first act, and despite a few awkward pauses here and there, the almost perfect performance of the complex arrangements of the music is impressive, by the cast as well as by the band as conducted by George Kakas. Every single cast member has a stunning voice; Herron’s clear soprano breaks your heart as she sings out her desperation over becoming a teenage mom, Farasovsky’s voice has an intense power to it and he does not miss a note. The beautiful voices are complemented by wonderful performances from every single cast member. There is undeniable chemistry between the leading lovers; Murray’s angsty and adorably awkward Peter and Farasovsky’s confident yet confused Jason are both portrayed with a sincere sensitivity that is truly moving. Their duo is backed by a row of strong performances: Jason’s hilariously cynical sister, played by Kyra Ho, captures the essence of teenage girl frustration and depression perfectly, and Charmaine Au-Yeung’s Sister Chantelle adds sass and fun that breaks up the angsty teen drama with pizazz and soul, and surprisingly liberal advice for a nun, as she is the only character who sees and accepts Peter as he is.

The set by Caelan Mitchell-Bennett reminds both the characters and the audience of the constant presence of religion and God, as the performance is framed on either side of the stage by dark confessional booths, and in the back a looming, lit stained glass window that is equally beautiful as it is threatening. The religious authority that the set constantly reminds you of is contrasted by the costume by Madison Hauser, that with unbuttoned school uniforms, short skirts and loosened ties perfectly capture the messy teenage drama that bubbles just under the composed Christian surface of the senior class. 

There are too many sincerely heart breaking moments in this fantastic production of Bare to list but by the end the tears were running down my face in a cathartic stream that had slowly been building throughout the second act. As Peter confesses that the closest he has ever been to God was through the love he had for Jason, and forgives the priest for betraying his trust, my queer heart weeps for the star crossed lovers, and for every angsty teenager out there who has to battle through a wall of judgment whilst simply trying to be true to themselves.


Backstage Team and Crew

Producer: Millie Postle

Director: Linus Erbach

Asst. Director: Addie Gray

Music Director: George Kakas

Rehearsal Accompanist: Josh Wood

Choreographer: Sarah Julia Greenberg

Costumer: Madison Hauser

Set Designer: Caelan Mitchell-Bennett

Props Manager: Amy Addinall

Stage Manager: Sebastian Taylor

Stagehands: Amy Addinall, Catherine Thines

Technicians: Sam Bunce, Lucy Brook, Andrew Or



Peter- Dougal Murray

Jason- Peter Farasovsky

Ivy- Stephanie Herron

Nadia- Kyra Ho

Matt- Tristan Weller

Lucas- Mark Bailey

Sister Chantelle- Charmaine Au-Yeung

Claire- Katherine Montana (peter’s mom)

Priest- Charlie Campbell

Tanya- Iona Smith (one of the angels in 911 emergency, Lucas’ girlfriend)

Kyra- Charis Wiltshire (angel in 911 emergency)

Zack- Milo Bernfield-Millman

Diane- Sarah Crawford

Alana- Helen MacKenzie

Rory- Jackie Ashkin

Molly- Sarah Johnston

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