22nd Sep2017

Holding the Man (Theatre)

by timbaros

stag watermark holding the man4“Holding the Man” is a show that will rip your heart out and reduce you to tears.

Now playing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall, it’s true story of two Australian men, Timothy Conigrave and John Caleo, who fall in love in the late 1970’s, who have their ups and downs during the 1980’s, and who both are diagnosed with the HIV virus and must deal with not only death knocking on their door but also the shortened time they have to be together. The show is based on the 1995 book by Conigrave, and was written by Tommy Murphy. Most of you might have already seen the excellent 2015 film, or previous London productions (including the 2010 production at Trafalgar Studios). The Above the Stage production is just as hard-hitting.

It’s the storytelling and the extremely strong performances of the cast at the Above the Stag that rate this production five stars. Jamie Barnard is excellent as Conigrave while Ben Boskovic as Caleo eerily captures his quietness and reserve. Both actors bring to this production a strength and resolute to their roles that they are almost living out these characters lives right in front of us. From the beginning of the show, we can feel that these two men were meant to be together. But this being the early 80’s, not much was known about HIV, so unfortunately, and I’m not giving anything away here because it’s a well-known story, AIDS was to rear it’s ugly head directly at these two young, beautiful men.

“Holding the Man” takes us on a heart stopping and heartbreaking journey while we travel with them in their relationship with each other in life, and in death. And it’s Barnard and Boskovic who take us on this remarkable journey. Joshua Cole as a best friend of the two men provide welcome comic relief in a show that’s very serious: he’s charming and has the best lines in the play. Faye Wilson adds some much needed sparkle as another one of the boys friends, while Liam Burke, Annabel Pemberton, and Robert Thompson round out the ensemble in various roles as parents, friends and fellow students. One scene that includes the whole cast is a hilarious masturbation scene that’s cleverly done and something I’ve never seen on stage before.

But’s is the relationship between these two men that is at the heart and soul of this show. Director Gene David Kirk keeps the drama up and running while designer David Shields provides an excellent minimalist backdrop so the audience can focus on the story, and acting, unfolding right before our very eyes..Kudos to Above the Stag Theatre for producing a serious, dramatic and extremely well-acted show that’s a welcome relief from their previous camp and silly previous productions. Categorise “Holding the Man” as a must see!

For tickets, please go to:

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21st Aug2016

Holding the Man (DVD)

by timbaros

Holding The Man 1A moving and very emotional film about a gay couple during the height of the AIDS crises is beautifully told in the new film ‘Holding the Man.’

‘Holding the Man’ is based on the 1995 book of the same name by Timothy Conigrave. It’s a poignant true life love story between two Australian men, Conigrave and John Caleo, who met and fell in love at an all boys school in Melbourne in the mid-70’s. It’s a relationship that lasted 15 years.

‘Holding the Man’ is one of the better, or perhaps maybe the best, of all the films that’s dealt with the AIDS crisis. It’s a movie that simply tells a story, a love story so enduring and epic that it’s irrelevant whether the characters are gay or straight. And it’s a story that some of us, who were around in the 1980’s and 1990’s when friends and partners were dying right and left from AIDS, can unfortunately relate to.

Ryan Corr plays Timothy Conigrave, while Craig Stott plays John Caleo. ‘Holding the Man’ is directed by Australian Neil Armfield (2006’s ‘Candy’ with Heath Ledger), with a screenplay by Tommy Murphy, who adapted it for the stage in 2006.

Stott is the football player and football loving Caleo, a man who anyone could fall in love with. But it’s Conigrave, an aspiring actor, who tackles and gets him. (In Australian Football holding the man occurs when a player is tackled without the ball). They start dating and almost immediately fall in love. But these two men were exploring their sexuality in the 1970’s, a time when HIV and AIDS had yet to rear it’s ugly head. So it was a time when gay men were getting infected both in the U.S. and Europe – and Australia was no exception – without knowing it. It is 1985 when they discover that they are both HIV positive.

‘Holding the Man’ continues to tell the delicate and ever increasing sad story of these two men and their caring and loving relationship, how Caleo was the first to get sick, how their parents and family dealt with both men’s illness, and how Conigrave coped with Caleo’s deterioration.

Corr and Stott are terrific and give it their all (Anthony LaPaglia is especially good as Caleo’s stern and unforgiving father). But it’s in the storytelling where this film excels. Credit goes to director Armfield and writer Murphy for successfully bringing this story to the screen. It’s a story that’s been told a few times (‘Philadelphia’), but not in such a meaningful, and very realistic, way. However it’s Conigrave’s book on which this film is based, it’s his book about his relationship with Caleo, a sort of love letter to him, and we’re all very lucky to be able to see what an amazing, yet heartbreaking, relationship it was. This film is highly recommended.



Holding The Man [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Neil Armfield
Starring: Guy Pearce, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Corr, Craig Stott, Kerry Fox
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £4.05 GBP In Stock
Used from: £8.99 GBP In Stock

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08th Jun2016

Holding the Man (Film)

by timbaros

Holding The Man 1A moving and very emotional film about a gay couple during the height of the AIDS crises is beautifully told in the new film ‘Holding the Man.’

‘Holding the Man’ is based on the 1995 book of the same name by Timothy Conigrave. It’s a poignant true life love story between two Australian men, Conigrave and John Caleo, who met and fell in love at an all boys school in Melbourne in the mid-70’s. It’s a relationship that lasted 15 years.

‘Holding the Man’ is one of the better, or perhaps maybe the best, of all the films that’s dealt with the AIDS crisis. It’s a movie that simply tells a story, a love story so enduring and epic that it’s irrelevant whether the characters are gay or straight. And it’s a story that some of us, who were around in the 1980’s and 1990’s when friends and partners were dying right and left from AIDS, can unfortunately relate to.

Ryan Corr plays Timothy Conigrave, while Craig Stott plays John Caleo. ‘Holding the Man’ is directed by Australian Neil Armfield (2006’s ‘Candy’ with Heath Ledger), with a screenplay by Tommy Murphy, who adapted it for the stage in 2006.

Stott is the football player and football loving Caleo, a man who anyone could fall in love with. But it’s Conigrave, an aspiring actor, who tackles and gets him. (In Australian Football holding the man occurs when a player is tackled without the ball). They start dating and almost immediately fall in love. But these two men were exploring their sexuality in the 1970’s, a time when HIV and AIDS had yet to rear it’s ugly head. So it was a time when gay men were getting infected both in the U.S. and Europe – and Australia was no exception – without knowing it. It is 1985 when they discover that they are both HIV positive.

‘Holding the Man’ continues to tell the delicate and ever increasing sad story of these two men and their caring and loving relationship, how Caleo was the first to get sick, how their parents and family dealt with both men’s illness, and how Conigrave coped with Caleo’s deterioration.

Corr and Stott are terrific and give it their all (Anthony LaPaglia is especially good as Caleo’s stern and unforgiving father). But it’s in the storytelling where this film excels. Credit goes to director Armfield and writer Murphy for successfully bringing this story to the screen. It’s a story that’s been told a few times (‘Philadelphia’), but not in such a meaningful, and very realistic, way. However it’s Conigrave’s book on which this film is based, it’s his book about his relationship with Caleo, a sort of love letter to him, and we’re all very lucky to be able to see what an amazing, yet heartbreaking, relationship it was. This film is highly recommended.

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