AFL meets queer romance in Lab Kelpie’s production of Become The One at Riverside Theatres. Written by Adam Fawcett and directed by Lyall Brooks, the play examines toxic masculinity and identity against the backdrop of footy.
Noah and Tom are opposites. Blokey Tom, a high profile closeted AFL player, nearing the end of his career, falls for quick witted Noah who is proudly and openly queer. They begin a relationship and attempt to balance the safety of domesticity with the personal struggles which stem from external social forces.
“I really wanted to explore this question around why male footballers – who may not identify as exclusively heterosexual – choose to hide that part of themselves from the public, despite the social progress we have made around equality over the years,” Fawcett said.
Beyond focusing on the narrative of the closeted sportsman’s hesitancy to come out, Become The One considers difficult compromises and the impacts of hiding same-sex relationships on the partners of sport stars. What happens in a relationship when expectation and secrecy collide with a desire to live authentically?
Become The One interrogates whether queerness and hypermasculinity in Australian sport can co-exist and “how maybe we are all – in some capacity – contributing to the problem by trying to police things like sexuality and gender, which we are even seeing play out in the current election to the detriment of our trans kids,” Fawcett said. “I was also driven to write Become The One as a love letter of sorts to my teenage self – growing up queer in Gippsland in the 90s was a difficult time for me.”
Fawcett wanted to write a story that would have made him feel seen and heard.
At its core, Become The One spotlights the vibrancy of queer love and the courage of learning to reclaim agency.
“It’s also rare to see romantic queer dramedies on main stages – this really is a celebration of difference that I hope audiences will embrace!”