It always starts the same. That peculiar unease. A muted recognition. The guilty glance from across a crowded room. Love comes in at the eye, Yeats said. Whether you’re Paris Hilton, Ashley Cole, or a clerk at 10-11, it happens to the best of us. Surely, it can’t be all that different in a VIP lounge.
“You are so incredibly lucky to be here, you know,” the bubbly blonde bartender giggles at you from across the stage. “They don’t let just anybody into the VIP section.” Things are different here, she insists. Wild, even. This is where the stars play.
The modest setting of Hetero-heroes: with full respect for Ashley Cole, begins thus. With a scantily clad little ditz welcoming you to a world that is seemingly far from what you know. So enter the VIPs, Hilmar Guðjónsson as William Gallas, and Hilmir Jensson as Ashley Cole. They’re having a beer. Across a table teeming with testosterone-steaming footballers, they’re noticing each other.
More than a simple love story, the cunning production is tightly woven with allusions to everyday internal conflicts, including image and idol worship, sexual social constructs and the ultimate fear of defeat. The real success of the play, however, lies in its gripping use of metaphor, provided by the ostensibly trivial banter of the barmaid, who subtly creates an internal story line. One that hangs like a stream of consciousness over the rising actions of the two main characters long after she has left the stage.
The play turns out to be somewhat of a soccer match, with all the players looking to score in one way or another. Those watching, clouded by jealousy and those cursed to play, flickering between losing and regaining sight of the fact that they are part of an elaborate show.
Ironically, or perhaps brilliantly, enough, the story is as much about the silly barmaid, played by Þórunn Arna Kristjánsdóttir, as it is about the two VIPs. Playwright and director Heiðar Sumarliðason has done the laudable job of examining how the celebrity-blueprint affects and fits, or doesn’t fit, into us spectators’ lives. And he pins it down with vigour.
Naturally enough, the production has marks of amateurism; the costumes and set design especially had signs of greenness, rather than minimalism. The actors similarly had a few minor quirks to work out but, for kids in their second or third years at the Arts University, it was all completely forgivable. Their rawness was captivating, and their sophisticated wield of emotion and humour equally impressive.
The rest, the gritty details, will come. The way you pick up a glass, or thrust someone against the wall in a heat of passion. It’s a key part of the craft, for sure, but it is fine tuned with experience. Combed to perfection with schooling. The awkwardness fades, like smoke drifting across a crowded VIP room. But passion, the way you kiss, or look someone in the eye, and the braveness to enter into a difficult role, or to write a difficult scene, all that is something else. Something daunting but singular, and nothing short of praiseworthy.
The play closes Friday August 17. Tickets available at 824-2653 and heterohetjur@gmail. com.