Going into this show, you may think you know what the F word is. However, a few minutes into his performance, Gavin Roach let the most common F word slip into his monologue and I became intrigued as to what his “F word” might be.
Roach was present in the room as we filtered in and made eye contact, smiling at us, creating warmth in the atmosphere. He was endearing from the start, and this vulnerability he showed would continue to deepen throughout his performance.
For the first ten minutes or so, Roach luxuriated in Phonology, exploring the sounds and meanings of words. He invited many of us to contribute our favourite and least favourite words to say. We all had a laugh and this sense of audience inclusion created a safe space for what was to come later.
When he asked us to suggest what we thought the F word he can’t say might be, I suspected at once that it was “faggot”. I called it out and Roach turned to me and confirmed my answer. I was slightly horrified when the next thing he told me was that I now get to be part of the show! Fortunately for me, he was kidding, and joked: “No that’s ok, I don’t play well with others”. While I was allowed to stay in my seat, I actually was part of the show from that point forward. He asked me to say The F word whenever it was required, so that he didn’t have to speak it himself.
At first I was keen to help, to contribute to making his show the best it could be. But as time went by and I was instructed to repeat the word whenever Roach gestured in my direction, it started to stick in my throat. As Roach imbued the word with the hateful contexts in which he heard it directed at him, I felt sicker each time it came out of my mouth, until my final offering was barely more than a reluctant whisper.
Roach told us part of his very personal story about what it felt like to be a young gay man and how the people around him as he was growing up responded. It wasn’t all bad and I must commend him on the way that he balanced the script so that it was not a sad story of self-pity. It gave credit to some of the people in his life who had his back when there was so much hatred from others.
I Can’t Say The F Word is a well-structured piece of theatre and with some adaption would be an absolute cracker of a teaching tool in high schools, where casual racism and prejudice are second nature to so many young people.
This is Roach’s second successful season at the Perth Fringe and I look forward to the shows he will bring in future years.
I Can't Say The F Word
Venue: The Stables | Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge, WA
Dates: February 4 – 8, 2015