Brisbane Powerhouse has welcomed back the MELT Festival for 2018. Running from Thursday 24 May until Sunday 3 June, the MELT Festival is a celebration of queer arts and culture. The festival comprises LGBT-themed art competitions, circus performances, and musical theatre productions, and it is designed to showcase the immense talent and unabashed pride of Brisbane’s LGBT community. The 2018 Melt Festival was ushered in by Bare, a contemporary pop rock musical performed by Understudy Productions that follows a group of catholic high school students grappling with their sexuality. The story line predominantly focuses on the love story between Peter and Jason, two best friends who have been conditioned to repress their feelings.

While under the influence of some not-so-G rated brownies, Peter has a profound religious experience and pledges to live his true self. Jason, however, fears that the revelation of his homosexuality will destroy his Popular Athlete status and the love and support of his family. The growing tension between Peter and Jason begins to seep into and destabilise their friendship group. In a stunning turn of events, Jason tries to “straight” himself by initiating affections with one of his best friend’s prospective girlfriends. What’s more, Peter and Jason’s forbidden love story is played out as their school begins rehearsals for the annual production of Romeo and Juliet. 

Bare was anything but its namesake. It was colourful, joyous, and intensely moving. It was not your average sing-a-long; while the songs were incredibly upbeat and catchy, the lyrics were honest and amusing. The choreography was dynamic and flawless, with every single cast member giving their all to open up the stage and invite the audience in. Shaun Kohlman was perfect as the as the sweet, sympathetic Peter, and his singing was like soup for the senses. The dashing Jason Bentley was every part the outwardly confident, quietly conflicted high school jock, and their chemistry illuminated the space like a burning flame.

Bare is a boundless foray into the joy of celebrating your true self, and it is truly a celebration in itself.

Readers also enjoyed this review of Share My Blankets, also part of MELT Festival.