MiNDFOOD reviews: ‘Hubris & Humiliation’, a humorous tale of love and loss set in Sydney’s gay scene

By Gill Canning

<em>Roman Delo and Ryan Panizza in Sydney Theatre Company’s Hubris & Humiliation, 2023. Photo: Prudence Upton</em>
Roman Delo and Ryan Panizza in Sydney Theatre Company’s Hubris & Humiliation, 2023. Photo: Prudence Upton
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a gay sugar daddy in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a young, good-looking husband.”

Currently being performed by the Sydney Theatre Company, Hubris & Humiliation draws on Jane Austen’s premise and opening line to her novel Pride and Prejudice to present its own tale of love and heartbreak…albeit with plenty of laughs.

In Pride and Prejudice, it is imperative that one of the five Bennet sisters marries well in order to support her family which, without a male heir, will lose their home when their father dies. In Hubris & Humiliation, middle-aged Brisbane check-out chick Bernice Delaney (Celia Ireland) is in dire danger of losing her home after falling victim to a catfish scheme. She persuades her son, Elliot to head for Sydney where he has been offered a work promotion and where his wealthy gay uncle can introduce him to well-off, potential partners. Elliott, who is actually in love with his best friend, Warren, is not keen at first but is persuaded to travel south and join Uncle Roland (Andrew McFarlane) in his luxury Kirribilli mansion. His feisty sister Paige soon follows, incensed at being left behind with her dull boyfriend and seeking an exciting relationship of her own. Left on her own in Brissie, Bernice is on her tail, to make sure things go according to plan.

Melissa Kahraman and Andrew McFarlane in Sydney Theatre Company’s Hubris &Humiliation, 2023. Photo: Prudence Upton

As the two siblings encounter the different milieus of Sydney society, they form relationships, discovering and pursuing love in sometimes unexpected places and in various incarnations – romantic, platonic and familial.

In such a strong ensemble, it seems almost churlish to single out particular performances. However STC newcomers Roman Delo (Elliot), Ryan Panizza (Warren/William D Cray), and Melissa Kahraman (Paige) along with Henrietta Enyonam Amevor (Elliot’s workmate Chantel/Paige’s Sydney paramour, Juki) all embody their characters with impressive ease, bringing infectious energy along with huge acting chops to the stage, aided by a gorgeous set and some hilariously camp costuming.

Hubris & Humiliation by Brisbane comic playwright Lewis Treston is part of Sydney WorldPride season and won the 2021 New Play Award at the Australian Theatre Festival in New York. Although it is a play that starts out being about the gay love Elliot has for Warren, it morphs into more of a story about the truth and beauty of loving whomever you love, no matter their gender and no matter their circumstance.

Highly recommended for all.

Hubris and Humiliation
The Wharf Theatre
Until 4 March, 2023
sydneytheatrecompany.com.au

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