For anyone in Melbourne who hasn’t already seen Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, I say – get down to Chapel off Chapel before it closes and feast on this wonderfully uplifting production!

One of the main features of Midsumma Queer Arts Festival, and with all proceeds going to Australian Marriage Equality, you won’t regret making the effort.


Standing on Ceremonyis a series of nine short plays on a number of subjects surrounding gay marriage, written by different playwrights, including Mo Gaffney, Paul Rudnick, Wendy MacLeod and Moises Kaufman of The Laramie Project fame.  It has been brought to Australia by Helen Ellis of Ellis Productions, who is not only the producer but also acts (hilariously I might add) and directs along with Melbourne theatre stalwart Wayne Pearn.  The set is simple – a wall of white boxes onto which various backdrops are projected and which is moved around to create different spaces for each play; while a live band plays smoky jazz and funky love songs which help to provide for a seamless transition between the different pieces. 


The cast is strong, and includes well-known names Michael Veitch, Spencer MacLaren and Pia Miranda but don’t be fooled into thinking that they ‘own’ the show, as there are equally strong performances from the not-so well-known cast members Olivia Hogan, Brett Whittington, Luke Jacka and the aforementioned Helen Ellis.A full range of emotions is on show, taking the audience on a ride across joy, sadness, fear, grief and anger all punctuated by outright hilarity. 

Olivia Hogan (left) with Pia Miranda


During the piece “Traditional Wedding” featuring Pia Miranda and the show’s only lesbian actor, the lovely and talented Olivia Hogan, I laughed helplessly in the face of dialogue that so accurately and humorously captured a feature of our community that so many of us would recognise… ”See I used to date Cheryl, and Cate briefly dated Cheryl’s ex Betsy who happens to be my accountant, whose current girlfriend Amy was my girlfriend back in college… and the best friend of a woman I used to live with called Carla who as it turns had a brief fling with Cate…” and so on and so forth – I’m sure you get the picture!


Aside from the talented cast, the variety of content was one of the strong points of this production.  Each piece is short and snappy and addresses the issues and difficulties confronting those in same sex relationships who want to get married.  It does, however, stop short of preaching and politicising and instead examines the issues and difficulties facing almost anyone in that position.


The universal theme of love is explored and honoured, while not shying away from issues such as the loss felt by a man giving the eulogy at the funeral of his partner of 46 years; the questioning and indecision of one half of a lesbian couple flying to Iowa from California to get married (“after we get married it’s just monogamy, monogamy, monogamy…”); and the reality of homophobic hate-crimes and the impact it has on victims and their loved ones. 


But more than anythingStanding on Ceremony is a celebration of love, of every person’s right to stand before family and friends – and one another – and have the exact same legal rights to marry their partner as everyone else around them, and this is conveyed with compassion and empathy from all members of the cast. If you missed out on seeing this show, or you don’t live in Melbourne, keep an eye out just in case it pops up in a theatre near you – you won’t be disappointed!


And guess what?  I caught the bouquet at the end of the last piece “Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words”… so I guess that means I’m next!