Written in 1992, Michael Gurr’s Sex Diary of an Infidel is still pertinent and timely. On the surface, it’s a play about sex tours to the Philippines and the Australians making money out of a corrupt industry. But, more than this, it’s a play about deception and lies. The lies we tell ourselves and the lies we tell each other.
Jean is an award-winning journalist heading to Manila with her photographer boyfriend Martin to do a story on sex tourism. We soon realise that we can take nothing she says at face value as she is a compulsive liar. She lies to everyone, about everything. The story she won a huge award for was probably all faked. It was about Tony, a young guy living on the streets in Sydney.
Since winning $20,000 for her story, Tony has been blackmailing Jean for a share of the money. When she goes to Manila he breaks into her flat and is discovered by Jean’s sister Laura who is supposed to be feeding the cat while she’s away.
TONY: Who are you?
LAURA: The window’s broken.
TONY: Yes. I saw that. Do I know you?
LAURA: Sorry. Laura. I’m Jean’s sister.
TONY: Oh, yes.
LAURA: I’ve got a key.
LAURA: I’m meant to be feeding the cat.
TONY: I think it’s gone.
As easily as this, Tony persuades Laura that he’s supposed to be in the flat and they are soon in bed together, bonding partly over how little they both know Jean.
Meanwhile, over in Manila, Jean has met up with Max, an older man who runs an exclusive escort service and who knows Jean from years ago. One of Max’s most exotic and successful ‘girls’ is a transsexual named Toni. He’s saving for a sex-change operation but is becoming more political and faces a choice between the life he wanted (as a woman) and being a revolutionary.
Max and Toni both keep vocal diaries of sorts. Toni’s is his regular prayer to the holy quartet.
TONI: Father. Son. Holy Ghost. (Beat) And Mary. (Beat) Today I gave blow to two Australians and an American soldier. I used condoms. Please send condoms that taste better. I don’t like to ask, it makes me sound like a peasant. You know, ‘And please God keep the goat out of the vegetables.’ But it would be a help.
Max’s diary is recorded into a small tape recorder.
MAX: Oh, one thing I must tell you. One of our clients was rather creatively ‘got’ this week. Tattooed under Seconal. I believe his prick now sports a colourful local insult in indelible ink. Try explaining that to the wife. Somewhere in Australia, in a tiled and floral-towelled bathroom, a man is weeping over a pumice stone. So much sadness for an hour of what isn’t always bliss.
Gurr’s writing is sharp, humorous and surprisingly (considering the subject matter) filled with hope.
Publisher: Currency Press
Cast: 4M, 2F