Triple X

Triple X
By Glace Chase. Queensland Theatre. Directed by Paige Rattray. Bille Brown Theatre, Brisbane. 6 March to 1 April 2021

Glace Chase is unforgettable in Triple X, an outstanding performance in her self-penned play. This was an emotional opening night – a world premiere 12 months in the making, since the disruption of 2020’s lockdown. But the cast and crew’s patience has paid off, and you could feel that all the performers were eager to get back on the stage and entertain. And Triple X is the perfect vehicle – with humour that runs the gauntlet from the very cheeky to the extremely rude – and yet very real characters who are warm, annoying, outrageous, lonely and, at times, heart-wrenching. It’s not sitcom or romcom, farce or drag-tastic – Triple X is a unique love story with ground-shifting honesty at its core, about accepting love where you find it, and also about the need to love yourself.  

Award-winning writer/performer Glace Chase has worked with Belvoir Street Theatre, La Boite, The Public Theatre NYC, and Griffin Theatre Company where she first crossed paths with director, Paige Rattray. The creative pair met for drinks 10 years later in a bar in New York where Chase’s life-and-loves anecdotes, combined with a reading of her portfolio of unproduced writing inspired the idea that Triple X could be a ground-breaking new Australian play about two star-crossed lovers who come from very different worlds – drag act Dexie from the Kandy Kane bar meets Scotty, the Wall Street banker, who just happens to be engaged to be married to a girl from a respectable finance family. The underlying theme of ‘love is love’ is always going to be pertinent and, while New York City is a powerful entity itself – brilliantly brought to life by Designer, Renée Mulder, and Lighting Designer, Ben Hughes, with the perfectly replicated luxury loft apartment, doubling as the Kandy Kane bar – this is a story that transcends place and time.

Director Paige Rattray shows her obvious enthusiasm for this close-to-her-heart piece. Her deft direction balances out the humour and pathos, tackling delicate subject matter as both lead characters recount their struggles with identity and family expectations. The danger of not being your authentic self is very real and we witness this from both sides of this story. Dexie is a beautiful character – a survivor who refuses to tick anyone else’s boxes and Glace Chase gives a career-defining performance as her own creation. It takes effrontery spiked with fearlessness to write a piece that is based on your own experiences – but to then bring your fictionalised self to life on stage with brashness and finesse is uplifting. I thought it would be difficult to have sympathy for a Wall Street banker caught in a world of affluence and self-absorption – a man who has had a toxic recreational relationship with women in the past, and yet aspirations to assuage his own damaged upbringing through a marriage. But these are complex characters, skilfully written. Josh McConville’s Scotty is a strong foil to Chase’s Dexie and the pair share an ease of presence when together, the same sense of humour, and love of sex – be prepared for surely one of the most laugh-out-loud sex scenes to appear on the Bille Brown stage. And, while Christen O’Leary’s Deb, the diminutive yet controlling mother, has the lion’s share of the supporting cast’s amusing (and confronting) scenes – her hypoglycemic blood sugar dip is a memorable stage moment – the writing is even-handed, giving each character their own fresh comic and dramatic turns, more than mere ballast or stereotyped decorations. And they have been cast with the perfect performers, all equally forceful in their roles. The excellent Contessa Treffone (as Scotty’s gay sister Claire) is such a comic force. Her energic openness and righteousness are perfectly matched by Elijah Williams as Jase, Scotty’s football-loving, hard-partying flatmate. He captures the arrogance of someone whose unwillingness to be shocked comes mainly as a result of his money exposing him to a cross-section of society, without a real connection or commitment – until he and Claire join forces in an unexpected way.

Triple X is a brilliantly executed, balanced play of rich tones and refreshing perspectives. In fact, it is testament to Chase’s talents as a writer that there are just not enough adjectives to capture how unique Triple X’s combination of characters is.

Beth Keehn

Photography: Brett Boardman

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