“The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown, no finer place for sure
Downtown everything’s waiting for you”
This song by Petula Clark seems to ring true for playwright Kyle Chua in his new play, Downtown. The lights are much brighter because Kyle has decided to write about two gay men and their tumultuous relationship. The show premiered as a part of Boston University’s Fringe Festival. The story focuses on Al, an acclaimed Chinese Filipino writer of the fictional book Downtown. Upon reading the book, Ben, Al’s former partner, realizes that the explicit sex scene is written about him. The play has everything from an exploration of Al’s roots to a drag show that will bring down the house. However your troubles are far from forgotten, when the drag queen, Kitkat, reminds the audience about the Stone Wall Riots and their affect on the larger gay community.
At the end of the day this play does something that I haven’t seen many plays do; it addresses questions about race by presenting Al as a Chinese-Filipino but the play is not about race, it wasn’t about being gay, or coming out, or the oppression that the LGBTQ community faces. It was about two individuals trying to make amends with each other who just happened to be gay, who happened to be POCs. And that shaped them, that made them who they were, but that didn’t rule them.
I crave this type of representation in future new works. Bring characters to the stage who are complicated, flawed. Who are human. We need shows like Downtown because they express a perspective that is beautifully human and give people of every cultural background a way to show that.