Review: Holding the Man (Pride Films and Plays)

| August 8, 2018

MIcah Kronlokken and Jude Hansen star in Holding the Man, Pride Films and Plays           


Holding the Man 

Written by Tommy Murphy
From memoir by Timothy Conigrave
Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tix: $20-$30  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Straight from the heart true story


MIcah Kronlokken and Jude Hansen star in Holding the Man, Pride Films and Plays 2w

Pride Films and Plays presents
Holding the Man

Review by Lauren Emily Whalen

By today’s standards, Holding the Man seems almost quaint. Two boys fall in love at their Catholic high school in the 1970s, only to face head-on the AIDS epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Some may even argue that Tommy Murphys play, based on Timothy Conigrave’s memoir of the same name, perpetuates the “dead gay” narrative. However, remembering those who lost their lives to AIDS is paramount to queer history, and must be retold if we are to move forward. Pride Films and Plays’ stellar production chronicles a forbidden teenage romance that became a life partnership cut short, calling back to a time when life MIcah Kronlokken and Jude Hansen star in Holding the Man, Pride Films and Playswas far from simple.

Since its posthumous publication in 1995, Conigrave’s book has been reprinted 14 times. Murphy’s stage adaptation is one of Australia’s most-performed plays, and a film version co-starring Guy Pearce and Geoffrey Rush was released in 2015. The title refers to a transgression in European football (American soccer) and is a callback to the couple’s early days. At fifteen Tim (Micah Kronlokken), an aspiring actor who’s already fooled around with other boys, meets football team captain John (Jude Hansen, a Melbourne native just like the real-life couple). Their flirtation slowly grows, centering on scribbled messages on John’s pencil case, and culminates in a sweetly hesitant phone call: “Will you go ‘round with me?” “Yep.”

The first act of Murphy’s adaptation follows Tim and John through high school and university, up to Tim’s acceptance to drama school and his suggestion that they take a break, to John’s devastation. Murphy aptly captures the breathless rush of first love coupled with problems that gay teens of religious parents still face today. While Tim’s family is grudgingly accepting, John’s father tries to forbid his son from seeing his boyfriend. In the meantime, John remains steadfast and loyal and Tim, while still deeply in love, delights in the thrill of the chase and sleeps around without John’s knowledge. Coupled with Isaac Mandel’s soundtrack of 80’s pop that puts the audience squarely in the time and place, we’re with Tim and John all the way, even when we disagree with their words and actions. Dressed in black with a variety of costume pieces, ensemble members play everyone from drama school classmates to Tim’s best friend’s mother, who temporarily puts up John after he’s kicked out of his home.

Jude Hansen and MIcah Kronlokken  star in Holding the Man, Pride Films and Plays

In Holding the Man’s second act, it’s the thick of the AIDS crisis, which will directly affect Tim and John. The men, now living together, circle through denial and acceptance, their jokes growing darker as health weakens. This is where lesser AIDS narratives can get overwrought and suicidally depressing, but Murphy’s script and Michael D. Graham’s thoughtful direction are different. Even as Tim and John lose hope, their love endures and their struggles are both heartbreaking and beautiful to watch. Hansen gives John a pure sweetness and is completely believable as a man who was loved unequivocally to the end, and Kronlokken pulls off a credible Australian dialect while initiating a lifelong romance as well as the actions that will bring about its end. Running in repertory with two other plays, Hurricane Damage and F*cking Men, as part of PAC Pride Fest, Holding the Man is the clear frontrunner. Both giggle-inducing and devastating, it had me sniffling in my seat and then walking away from the Pride Arts Center, contemplating the nature of love.

Rating: ★★★½

Holding the Man continues through August 26th at Location, address (map), with performances Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm.  Tickets are $30 for premium seats, $25 general admission ($20 for seniors, students and military), and are available by phone (866-811-4111) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More info at time: 2 hours 15 minutes, includes an intermission. This production contains adult situations)

MIcah Kronlokken and Jude Hansen star in Holding the Man at Pride Films and Plays

Photos by Paul Goyette 




Jude Hansen (John), Micah Kronlokken (Tim), Cody Derricks, Alisha Fabbi, Mikey Gray, Bryson David Hoff, Alexander McRae, Jordan Moore (ensemble)

behind the scenes

Michael D. Graham (director), Cody Von Ruden (costume design), Evan Frank (scenic design), Becs Bartle (lighting design), Isaac Mandel (sound design), Hillarie M. Shockley (properties design), Saren Nofs-Snyder (dialect coach), Michael Starcher (stage manager), Gabby Galvan (assistant stage manager), Paul Goyette (photos)

Holding the Man cast


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Category: 2018 Reviews, Lauren Emily Whalen, Pride Arts Center, Pride Films and Plays, Repertory, Theatre Festival

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