Hookup is the latest play from Outbox, a theatre company who specialise in telling unheard stories from the LGBT community. The format is a series of short, self-contained vignettes about LGBT life, with no recurring characters of situations, only the recurring theme of humans trying to form connections with other humans.
Superficially, Hookup is covered in camp, with a giant disco ball hanging over a glitzy catwalk stage, a prologue and epilogue from a drag queen, and a couple of stomping song and dance numbers, but the striking thing is the subtlety and warmth of the writing. There is nuance and revealing detail in every scene, and the actors do the writing justice, painting the subtle shades with just as much flair as they do the bold splashes.
The strength of the storytelling almost becomes self-sabotaging, as so much life and implied narrative is created in the short scenes that you wish you could see how things play out for the characters. Did the two women set up on a date by a mutual straight friend (they both met the criteria of being gay and were therefore ‘perfect for each other’) see each other again? Did the best friends who accidentally had drunken straight sex with each other manage to resume normal relations? Almost all of the set-ups could have been the seed for a play that I wanted to see.
Despite its atomised structure, though, Hookup still manages to be far more than the sum of its parts. The scenes build on each other to create a relatable and familiar world out of unfamiliar pieces, commonalities emerge among the various characters and conversations, and the cumulative effect is coherent, satisfying and thoroughly heartwarming.