If you have seen the poster for this – heck, if you read the title – you know what you are in for.
Written by Thomas Sainsbury and Jason Smith, Gays in Space is the tale of a group of gay astronauts handpicked by NASA to explore the surface of Uranus. After that the plot gets really complicated, taking in a sentient sex robot, death, illness, heartbreak, intergalactic Grindr hook-ups and lots of Chris Parker shouting.
Boasting the same threadbare production values and verbal word salad as Sainsbury’s other shows, in anyone else’s hands, Gays in Space could have been super-lame. In this cast’s hands (Chris Parker, Zak Enayat, Daryl Wrightson, Blaise Clotworthy and Sainsbury himself), it becomes gutter-level screwball.
Just trying to call back highlights feels like a fever dream:
- Parker contemplating inserting a lightsabre-sized phallus where every man has gone before
- A meteorite (Sainsbury) grooving out to house music as the rocket’s crew desperately try to avoid a collision
- A live-action montage of the crew’s sexual misadventures, narrated by Wrightson in a depraved variation of Star Trek’s captain’s logs
- Oh, and a cameo from Tom Cruise
A lot of credit has to go to the cast (and great pacing) for keeping this glittering shitshow from flying off the rails.
Playing a social media personality who was added to the crew for his number of Instagram followers (in the age of Trump, this is the most realistic beat in the show), Chris Parker’s performance is like a rainbow-coloured gumbo of every fey/camp/gay stereotype you or your homophobic uncle can think of.
A study in contrast to Parker’s excess, Blaise Clotworthy somehow finds a way to mine some pathos out of his role as a hot pants-wearing robot discovering it has a soul. His relationship with Zak Enayat’s model-turned-astronaut is the closest thing to a ‘romance’ in the show, and could have been horrifically predictable, but Sainsbury throws in plenty of cheating and some bestiality to keep things interesting.
The ostensible leader of the arse-tronauts, Daryl Wrightson is the white bread on this man-meat sandwich. While everyone else is running around screaming nonsense, he’s trying to keep some measure of decorum. His reactions are some of the funniest things in the show.
The music is fun, riffing on house and disco, with suitably on-the-nose lyrics (unfortunately, the one issue I had with the show was that there were a few parts where I could not make out the lyrics). The highlight was ‘Party Planet’, which I wouldn’t mind listening to again.
Gays In Space. It is exactly what you think it is. And more.
Gays in Space plays at Q as part of Auckland Pride until 16 February.