I didn't tell you, did I, of what I'd really like to do with this? Cause, yeah, if I was only, like, a Scottish Chris Lilley or something, I'd totally make this the basis for a six-part TV mockumentary, Staging Sodom. (Or something like that.) I have, as they say, ideas.
The pitch? At Leviticus International's new UK flagship Centre for Orientation Conversion, counselor Richard Alcott, PhT is staging a production of Sodom! his grand stage musical re-envisioning of The Farce of Sodom. His cast: a group of gay teens sent to the boot camp to be "reoriented." His audience: a group of visiting dignitaries from the US Head Office. Over the coming weeks, we'll follow Richard's struggle to thrash his material into shape, and we'll meet some of the troubled young men into whose hands he'll be putting that material, for them to bring it to life:
Roger, who insists he's straight and doesn't even belong here. Roger is forced into the play and mortified to be cast as Puckinello, the King's Catamite. From Richard's touchy-feely direction it's blindingly clear that Richard is besotted with him. He "does a Steve McQueen," in the penultimate episode, throwing everything into disarray.
Tom, the flaming power-bottom who desperately wants to play Puckinello but is miscast in multiple minor roles "because his face is a bit bland, you know, so you can do so much with it!" So we end up with him in a giant handlebar moustache as General Buggerman, a waxed moustache as Virtuoso the dildo-maker, and a full beard as Flux the physician -- all of them looking absurd on the slender, girlish youth. Naturally, at the last minute, when Roger goes on the run, he gets to step into the role.
Lucy/Luke, a trans girl -- i.e. biologically male, female-identifying. Despite not being remotely flamboyant, Lucy is cast as Cunticaea to give "him" the opportunity to be "as dazzling as he wants to be... but within the perfectly safe tradition of the pantomime dame." Lucy is determined to get gender-reassignment, which she's thoroughly researched, and become an accountant. Lucy escapes with Roger, forcing Richard to step into the role.
David, the new arrival. We first meet his parents as they drop him off, worried about the self-proclaimed "bicuriousity" of their son; cut to a prepubescent child, who we'll find out doesn't actually knows what the word means. David is cast as Prickett, the young prince of Sodom who's debauched over the course of the play. He has no idea what's going on, just wants to go home. John takes on an elder brother role for him.
John, the actor cast as Bollox. It's an open secret that John and Tom are a couple trying to patch up a split, blatantly obvious to all but Richard. They use the play as a pretext to meet, with Roger helping to cover for them, but have a huge bust-up over Tom's infidelity. It's resolved when Jack's fraternal relationship with David is insanely assumed to be sexual, and Tom storms in to tell Richard that his bf is not a fricking paedo. The two are about to be disciplined when Roger's escape is discovered.
Episodes would move along chronologically but also each focus in on one particular character, with the others interviewed but their own narratives backgrounded.
Week 1 -- The concept -- Richard
Week 2 -- The auditions -- Roger
Week 3 -- The cast -- Lucy
Week 4 -- Rehearsals -- David
Week 5 -- Dress rehearsal -- Tom
Week 6 -- Performance -- John
Some little details, thoughts on the sorta stuff that would be in here:
Centre for Orientation Correction? Picture the sign outside, the initials with a K spraypainted on the end.
PhT? Stands for therapist of philosophy, rather than doctor of philosophy. It's "not exactly" a medical degree... or a philosophy degree. It's "sort of the middle ground, where therapy reaches out to philosophy and philosophy reaches out to therapy."
Reoriented? "We don't call it 'cured,' because it's very important to us not to stigmatise homosexuality as a disease in and of itself. Also we're not legally allowed to use the word cure."
A stage musical? It's "a crucial part of the therapy to give these young men a healthy outlet for the sensitivity and creativity that might otherwise lead them astray" -- as Richard explains earnestly while, in the background, a chorus line of boys in hotpants practises the gayest dance number ever.
The Farce of Sodom? A Restoration play by the notorious libertine Lord Rochester may seem a curious choice, but really it's "a scathing indictment of the depravity that leads to disease and fiery demons." See, King Bolloximian unleashes sodomy, and the kingdom falls apart. Incest, bestiality, paedophilia, everything! But right at the very end, on the very last page, the fiery demons show up to give the king his come-uppance. "So it's all OK!"
Interviewer: So they drag him to hell, like Faust or Don Giovanni?
Richard: No, no, he escapes. But they make it very clear that he's a bad man.
Interviewer: On the very last page?
Richard: That's right. But the entire play is spent up to that point showing how depraved the kingdom becomes.
Interviewer: Like where stage directions call for a dozen naked men and women to come on and "fall to fucking?"
Trans? As far as Richard is concerned, playing Cunticaea is a safe context for Luke (as he insists on calling her) to explore that flamboyance
Richard: I mean, really, it's sort of a fetish.
Lucy: It's not a fetish.
Richard: For someone like Luke here --
Richard: -- transvestitism --
Lucy: -- transgender --
Richard: -- is about the costume... the grand facade! About being, just for a little while, someone else --
Lucy: -- that I actually am.
Richard: And I understand, I do, how desperately one can want to be someone else. Anyone else!
Lucy: [gives a look: yeah, we know you're fucked in the head, mate.]
The Pooñata? A piñata shaped like a giant pair of buttocks which Richard has the boys beat with a baseball bat.
Richard: There's been a lot of research over the years into the roots of homosexuality. An aversion to an overbearing mother. A desire for a distant father. The current theory is that it goes right back to infancy, to feelings of pleasure and shame associated with the poop-shute -- whether it comes from spanking or an early experience with suppositories. The homosexual is trying to get revenge on their bottom, you see, either directly or with another man's bottom as surrogate. And beating the buttocks allows them to vent all those feelings in a healthy way.
Cunt? Richard is convinced that this is not obscene if said "in an authentic Olde English accent."
Richard: Back then it was a medical term, so you just have to say it like they would have back then. I mean if I was to say it like--" [mouths "cunt"] "--except of course, I'm not actually saying it, because that would be dirty -- but if you imagine me saying it like--" [mouths "cunt"] "--well, that would be bad language. I wouldn't expose the boys to that sort of filth. But if I say it in the right accent. Cunt. You see? Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt. I can say it as much as I want and it's fine. It's just like saying, 'lady parts'. "
The rehearsals episode might well kick off with Richard trying to coach David to say it "correctly." His pronunciation is of course indistinguishable from the way David is saying it. I imagine a frustrated Richard screaming, "Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!" in the poor kid's face. Cut to the interview explanation, then quick cut through Richard "correcting" this or that performer over every swear word in the play.
So, yeah, unfortunately I'm not the Scottish Chris Lilley. I wouldn't put myself in charge of a project like this, so I can't imagine anyone else would. Even if they did, I wouldn't know where to start. If you happen to be the Scottish Chris Lilley though... like, some comedian-cum-mockumentarian with a burning desire to make something in the mould of Summer Heights High or Angry Boys (with a hint of Jerry Springer: The Opera thrown in for good measure)... dude, call me.
No, really. Call me.