Review: Blue Wizard, Belvoir

When Blue Wizard (Nick Coyle), an intergalactic traveller from a crystal planet where everyone is gay and a different colour (the beige Wizards have the gift of renovation, for example, while the blue have flirting, fucking, and dance) lands on Earth, he tries to make the best of it.

He’s been sent to Earth, the winner of a nationwide competition, to bring a gift and make welcoming contact. The thing is, nothing is really how he expected it to be. He lands on literal garbage, there are no fuckfests at all, and he seems to have lost contact with his home planet.

Nick Coyle in Blue Wizard. Image by Lisa Tomasetti.
Nick Coyle in Blue Wizard. Image by Lisa Tomasetti.

The show is deeply funny, with delightful and inspired pop culture references and a charming central character with a mane of long blue hair, and he’s endearing even when he looks up at the sky and sees that Earth has only one moon and calls it simply, purely, hilariously, “dumb.” What an alien.

Coyle has a great sense of comic pitch; he knows how to nail awkward offhand comments sandwiched between grand comic script, and his shift between the two helps the piece to feel more real and more like it’s evolving before our eyes, rather than rote recitation.

Exploring the story of being stranded in a world that was not made for you is a fairly obvious but knowing allegory for gay experience, and it’s backed up with the show’s science fiction framework, a genre that so often represents for the outsider and the other in common society.

What Blue Wizard skewers, highlights, and grapples with so beautifully, though, are the quieter moments of fitting into the world around you when you don’t quite fit, and probably are just not supposed to be something sustainable in the society you’ve found yourself in. The moment of trying to convince yourself that something is fun or lovely (in this case, ratty and possibly rotting discarded human clothes) when it quite clearly isn’t to your taste.

The moment of changing your dress or behaviour because it’s fine, really, you just want to get along with the people around you. The affable feeling of, well, this world seems okay, best to just get along with it and the people in it.

It’s the kind of thing that can wear on you after a while, and as Coyle highlights in his program notes, it’s a kind of assimilation by default that happens because sometimes the gay community can feel so disconnected from its subversive, riotous, defiant recent past – for a few different reasons: because now it’s common to spruik the line “gay people are exactly like straight people” rather than revelling in and celebrating difference; because now the party line is “marriage equality” and everything sanitised rather than other messy topics; and because, in Coyle’s most poignant parallel within the story, perhaps being stranded on a distant planet without your people is something like living in the world as a gay man knowing the generation before you was decimated by the AIDS epidemic. That unmoored, rootless reality.

Blue Wizard. Image by Lisa Tomasetti.
Blue Wizard. Image by Lisa Tomasetti.

So you improvise. You construct a shelter out of whatever you’re given in the world, build an understanding and sense of place. You sing and you relate too much to Britney Spears and you combat your loneliness however you really can. You try to have a family and be as heteronormative as possible, or not, but you make it work. You find the beauty in it.

Between Coyle’s deft writing and Adena Jacobs’ trademark sensitivity and insight, this time deployed through her role as dramaturg, this scrappy piece becomes something well-rounded and fully-realised, a satisfying journey that ends in a rainbow of light (following generally wonderful lighting design throughout by Damien Cooper).

Blue Wizard takes a radical turn in the last few moments and it’s something so liberating, though it shouldn’t be spoiled – the music and the puppetry and the Wizard’s rambling, lively monologue will take you there.

Blue Wizard, presented in association with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, is exactly the kind of work that should be encouraged and developed through queer festivals: a fun, camp, but genuinely moving exploration of a current queer experience, tentatively shaping its own place in history.

Cassie Tongue

Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney, and was the deputy editor of AussieTheatre. She has written for The Guardian, Time Out Sydney, Daily Review, and BroadwayWorld Australia. She is a voter for the Sydney Theatre Awards.

Cassie Tongue

2 thoughts on “Review: Blue Wizard, Belvoir

  • Clearly we weren’t watching the same show. I couldn’t find any redeeming qualities in this piece.

    • I agree with you Stephen… hardly a show… more a camp night over dinner and lots of wine. The next day Nick should have had a laugh in the mirror and quietly buried this idea… along with the grub and the wig and the lube.


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