Tag Archives: Lachlan Philpott

192: Colder

3 Jan

Lachlan Philpott wrote Colder after a close friend (Simon Knight) went missing and didn’t come back. In his play, David is a gay man in his mid thirties who has been missing once before, when he was seven.

Bison and Colder

At that time, David and his mother were atDisneyland, queuing for a ride. Past and present weave together throughout Colder as the action shifts from David’s first disappearance to his second, possibly permanent one.

There’s his mother, Robyn, played at 33, frantic in Disneyland and also at 59, a woman trying to keep things safe by locking them in Tupperware. There’s his best friend Kay, pregnant and alone. There’s his latest lover, Ed, and a parade of one-night stands.

The language is densely poetic, sentences overlap and different characters in different times finish off each other’s thoughts.

ED/ROBYN59: Will all these questions help

ED: I don’t know what was going on all I know is that he has …

KAY: That David isn’t anywhere to be found. We’ve called, we’ve looked we’ve searched and he has gone.

There’s also repetition to reinforce the musical rhythm of the language.

ROBYN59: I stare at her. Blink and wait for things to go back to colour.

ED: I stare at her and wait for him to jump out from behind something and laugh

KAY: Stare at her and wait for the colour that drained to return.

ED: Stare as she fiddles with a pen

ROBYN59: Hear her breath shorten, as the gap between when I asked and when she answers stretches out forever.

Colder is almost a radio play in its lyric description and lack of physical action. David is an enigma, his monologue near the end of the play raising more questions than it answers. Readers and audiences will strive to solve the puzzle because we can’t bear the loose strings, the not knowing. But in the real world most puzzles aren’t resolved. Some people disappear and never come back.

The closest we get to finding out what happened to David at the theme park is this, a few sentences sandwiched in another conversation, easy to miss:

DAVID: If I am away for a little while it won’t matter, while you are losing something in your bag, while you are rummaging for something in your pocket while you are humming something in your mouth while you are grimacing at the sun shielding your eyes and checking the map. Just a few steps.

Did he walk away and hide or was he taken when he left his mother’s side? Like his mother, we never know what happened to David in the theme park and, like everyone who loves him, we never know what happened to him as an adult. His mother’s desperate pledge is just words, weighted only by breath and longing…

ROBYN33: I will rip out my eyes and glue them to your feet to follow you everywhere you could go.

Publisher: Playlab Press (Published with Bison)

Cast: 3F, 3M

181: Bison

2 Nov

I felt confronted reading Bison. Most probably because I was on the bus and worried that the person sitting next to me might notice I was reading something pretty close to gay porn on my way to work.


There was page after page of descriptions of cocks of all sizes and in all sorts of places (and I’m not talking about the feathered variety of cock – although after reading Bison I wouldn’t be surprised if some did have feathery implants).

Lachlan Philpott’s use of language and rhythm is gorgeous and he had me entranced and horrified in equal measures. In my view, this is a good thing. Theatre should provoke reactions and Philpott’s juxtaposition of beauty and degradation is confronting, exciting and moving.

Bison is about the gay scene and is written so that it can be located in pretty much any city. I was concerned that it plays into homophobic stereotypes of all gay men being promiscuous, on the beat and obsessed with f*cking. While Philpott shows this is definitely a reality for some, he also explores long-term relationships, bitingly highlights the preoccupation with looks in the gay scene and reflects on the longing for intimacy in a world where immediacy is all that matters.

Every bar I enter I hope that things will be different. That it can stop. That I can turn off this hunger, this searching, this treading. I will find it here, I will find it and that will make all of this worth it.

Each actor plays a named character and also plays a variety of other characters or voices denoted by a number rather than names. These voices speak and interrupt in fragmentary overlapping dialogue and are particularly effective at conjuring the online world of chatrooms and chatroulette. They also convey the kaleidoscopic nature of clubs and drugs mingled with a half-dream, half-waking state.

1-4: Clock ticks
4: Something on my lips, petrol?/

1: Amyl?/
1/3: Something on my lips

1: Is it?/

3: A goodbye kiss/

2: On my lips, salty, sweet taste/

1-4: the words on my lips/

2/3/4: Clock ticks

There is brutality, especially in the scene with the man who ends up in the emergency ward after the ‘best sex’ of his life. It hurts to read Bison because the loneliness is so all pervasive. The quick thrill, the fantasy and the anonymity of online hookups merge with the sadness of being too old, too fat, too soft or too small. In this meat market there are several rejections for every pickup and it’s a wonder anyone emerges with a sense of self intact.

Publisher: Playlab Press (published with Colder)

Cast: 4M