Falsettos revolves around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist and the lesbians next door. When tragedy strikes and Marvin’s lover is diagnosed with AIDS during the 1980s pandemic, all participants must put their differences aside and unite. It’s an achingly poignant, yet hilarious look at the infinite possibilities that make up a modern family and a beautiful reminder that love can tell a million stories. The Melbourne Critique spoke with leading man, Don Winsor about performance, love and other things.
Introduce us to Falsettos, at its heart, what does the work seek to communicate with audience and public?
There has been a lot of conversation about that. In theatre, many of us try to approach a show with a one sentence summary of “what it’s about.” With Falsettos it’s hard, but here’s what it is for me: It’s about all the different ways love can mess with you. Love for a partner, love for someone else while you’re with a partner, the love of friends, the love between a parent and a child. It’s an honest story about a diverse extended family and the way, in the end, that love pulls you through.
What role do you play in this performance, and on personal level, what resonance have you uncovered with the work?
I play Marvin, who is at the center of… is the cause of… all this mess. I identify with Marvin because I’ve made terrible mistakes in my own life at times – are you supposed to say that? People who say ‘have no regrets’ are either very lucky or… I don’t know. But I have made missteps, out of ignorance and/or unaware selfishness… maybe not on Marvin’s level, but I also found my way back through the love of people around me who for whatever reason chose to see me through.
Do you believe in the power of conversation, and how does art and theatre work within this notion?
Of course! Theatre is about conversation. That said, the audience mostly just has to shut up and listen… their conversations come later, hopefully inspired by the hundreds of conversations that have created the theatre they just watched. Rehearsal is entirely about conversation. Unless you’re a big, long-running show… then a lot of that can wind up being a lot about ‘paint by numbers’, but… I digress. At the outset, all rehearsal is conversation, disagreement, and acceptance of new and better ideas. Those better ideas are why Tyran Parke is so great, by the way.
What should audience expect from this work, how does it play on the heart strings?
It is a crazy show. It starts out in a bit of an abstract way and gradually becomes more grounded until it reaches a point of reality… but it’s always honest, and heartfelt, and it’s very funny. The line of the show, for me, is ‘love can tell a million stories,’ and those stories can be wonderful or terrible. The score – the songs – are wonderful, especially in act two when things get… Wait! No spoilers.
A world without love would be?
Well, it would certainly be absent of much music or other art. I kind of think love is the root of most emotion, so it would be a fairly cold and empty world. It would be very… Vulcan.