Monday, February 07, 2011


As of February 1st I decided to try and give up drinking for a month.

I'm doing this - unofficially, at present - as part of a fundraising event called FebFast. The reason it's unoffical is that I'm flat broke (work didn't pay me last week as scheduled due to an issue with invoices and a new purchase order number) so I can't pay the necessary registration fee. Hopefully I get paid tomorrow though, at which point I'll be an officially paid up FebFaster. Huzzah.

Last year I failed spectacularly at FebFast, falling off the wagon after only three days and not getting back on. This year - perhaps because I made a second, more concerted effort to abstain from alcohol later in the year - I'm doing much better.

At the time of writing I'm six days' sober, part way through the seventh day, and finding the whole affair considerably easier than when I tried temporary sobriety last year. Instead of being anxious about not drinking and regularly craving booze, the past week has been significantly calmer and easier. Only in the first two days did I have minor cravings for alcohol, and they were easily quashed.

My reasons for doing FebFast are varied, but include wanting to lose weight and wanting to gain control over my drinking habit, which regularly saw me downing an entire bottle of wine or a six-pack of cider a night.

Since I first got drunk at 14, I've been a regular drinker; a heavy drinker at certain stages of my life, such as the last six to eight months, and for the year or so after my dad died when I was in my early 20s. To my knowledge, the longest I've ever gone without a drink in the last 29 years has been six days - that was last year, when I was seeing a counsellor to help me quit. This year I'm doing it on my own (though with a lot of peer support via social media).

I'm determined to break last year's personal record of six days sober; and then to push on through the month, and perhaps beyond. I'm doing it baby steps though: the first goal is to get through seven days completely alcohol free, a goal I'll achieve at the end of today; then ten days, and so on.

Whether I give up drinking for good remains to be seen (it's certainly something I've considered in recent months) but once thing's for certain: I've already proved to myself that I'm in control of my drinking, rather than the alcohol controlling me.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


Melbourne's queer cultural festival Midsumma is in full swing at the moment. For a range of reasons (including being broke, tired, lethargic, having a head full of other projects to organise and stress about, and doing a week of breakfast radio - as well as the fact that I've seen enough bad gay art over the festival's 22 years to last me a lifetime) I've only seen a handful of shows so far this year, although I plan to rectify that this evening by attending another production.

My Midsumma highlight to date was definitely the latest from Circus Oz, The Blue Show, an intimate and brilliant production in the company's new Spiegeltent. Set in the lifeless and barren surrounds of the docklands, the contrast once you stepped inside the gilt and mirrored interior of the Melba Spiegeltent was simply remarkable.

The intimate scale of the venue, coupled with director Annie Davey's challenge to the performers to push themselves creatively while exploring the theme of 'blue' (from having a blue, to having the blues), made for a brilliant night. Seeing Circus Oz perform in their Big Top is one thing, but seeing the performers from only a metre or two away as they balanced, swung, clowned about, danced, sang and were generally amazing - sometimes directly overhead - was a whole new experience.

From inventive things with bubblewrap to a nerve-wracking group juggling routine (which began with hard hats being handed out to audience members in the front row), The Blue Show was simply first class.

This Midsumma I've also seen the 11th anniversary revival of the award-winning Australian musical Prodigal, which had its World Premiere in the festival back in January 2000. A contemporary take on the biblical parable of the prodigal son, I've reviewed it in detail here, over at Arts Hub, but here's a quote or two to give you an impression of what I saw:

Briskly and effectively told, Prodigal is a stripped back production featuring five performers (one of whom plays two roles) and a single pianist, Mark Jones (The Beautiful Losers).

It tells the story of 18 year old Luke (2010 WAAPA graduate Edward Grey), who has grown bored of life in his home town of Eden on the south coast of New South Wales; a ‘Picture Postcard Place’ where he lives with his family, fisherman father Harry (Peter Hardy), housewife mother Celia (Anne Wood) and knockabout older brother Kane (Adam Rennie).

After running away from home Luke reinvents himself in Sydney; coming out, studying, sharing a flat with performance artist Maddy (Christina O’Neill), and discovering the pitfalls and pleasures of the gay scene with his new boyfriend Zach (Adam Rennie again).

Before long a fondness for partying hard and drug-taking has caused Luke to hit rock bottom, forcing him to return home for a painful reunion with his estranged family.

With a strong story that occasionally suffers from compressing events in order to keep the show moving – such as Luke’s descent into drug use, which is so tightly telescoped that it lacks dramatic impact – Prodigal is definitely entertaining, but it feels too much like a promising first show from talented young writers – which is exactly what it was when it premiered 11 years ago.

If you'd like to read the full review, you can do so here, as I said. Enjoy the festival!