When an audience-member responded with “disgust” to an unexpected gay kiss at a London theatre this week, one of the play’s actors decided to take a stand against homophobia.
A man in the second or third row tutted loudly and shouted out “this makes me feel sick” during a performance of The American Plan at the St James theatre on Wednesday night.
Actor Mark Edel-Hunt was “so angry” at the remark from the auditorium that he went backstage, located an eyebrow pencil and the biggest piece of cardboard he could find and wrote: “Some people are gay. Get over it!”
After the curtain went down Mr Edel-Hunt took a chair and placed his message – a famous slogan from Britain’s LGBT rights campaigner Stonewall – in the middle of the stage.
“I came off stage and I was so angry about it. That’s just not an acceptable thing to say,” Mr Edel-Hunt told The Independent.
“I’m not saying you shouldn’t be allowed to say such things, freedom of speech, after all. But, that someone was prepared to open a dialogue like that, made me want to invite people to respond.”
This production of The American Plan, which is at the St James until 10 August, was awarded a five-star review by The Independent’s theatre critic Paul Taylor when it was at the British Theatre Royal Bath earlier this year.
The play, by American playwright Richard Greenberg – best known for another piece tackling homosexuality, Take Me Out – premiered in the States in 1990.
The action is set in 1960 in the Catskill Mountains, north of New York, where the daughter of a wealthy German-Jewish refugee falls in love with a handsome stranger at a holiday camp.
“It’s a play where there are lots of twists and turns and tension. I play one of two young guys and at one point they start to kiss,” Mr Edel-Hunt said. “It’s a very unexpected moment and there’s always some vocal reaction in the auditorium.”
“On this particular night a man tut-tutted loudly and said ‘This makes me feel sick’,” he added.
Mr Edel-Hunt said that as an actor he is used to filtering out chatter and mobile phone noise during performances, but that he felt so strongly about this particular incident he couldn’t let it go.
After curtain down, when Mr Edel-Hunt propped the cardboard message centre-stage, the audience responded with cheers and applause. “It was really heartening to hear that,” he said.
Andy Wasley, from Stonewall, told the Gay Star News: “Given that Richard Greenberg’s most famous play is about a gay man, whoever complained about the kiss proved themselves to be as ignorant about theatre as they are about the reality of modern life.”
“It’s great to see a spirited response to such offensive behaviour.”
Photo credit: Andrew Smith