Rebecca Massey Talks Holding the Man

by | Mar 7, 2024

Holding the Man is a play that has been described as the love story which defined a generation. Based on Timothy Conigrave’s autobiographical book, Holding the Man traces the devastating results of HIV though the lens of Tim and John and their enduring and tragic love.

For actor Rebecca Massey the appeal to be involved in the project was multifaceted and immediate.

” Look, I remembered being blown away seeing the original production at the Stables,” she says referring to the 2006 Griffin Theatre production. ” I love Tommy Murphy’s work, (Murphy has adapted the work) and we’ve wanted to work together for a long time. I love working with Eamon’s (Flack) direction. And I read the play, sitting at home outside in the garden with a cup of tea one afternoon and laughed and laughed and then burst into tears. You’ve absolutely got to do a play that makes you cry when you read it.”

The play is honest, funny and heart breaking and the theme, says Massey, is love love love and love.

“Sexual, familial, all the loves. John is a character who really knows how to love, and teaches Tim, I think. And mortality – how brief is our time on this planet, with the people we might love. The emphasis has changed from when the play was first performed – AIDS was still in recent memory and there was still stigma attached to being homosexual, or outside of the sexual norms. This isn’t the case now, so the play really is looking at those incredible trail blazers that burnt the path clear for us today.  How far has Australia come!”

It is truly a big story with Massey busy playing a lot of characters. “I think the most impactful to the story are the mothers: Louis Caleo (John’s mum) and Mary-Gert (Tim’s mum),” she says. “Both mums are very like their sons – and are a joy to play. Mary Gert is a big feeler and, like Tim, doesn’t censor herself, which is pleasure to play. Lois is in a more traditional/ conservative relationship than Mary-Gert. Lois is more circumspect, initially obedient though ultimately frees herself to do what’s right for her son.”

The production explores some of the social history of our country told through the love and lives of a gay couple and their struggle for acceptances and equality, shining a light on how far we have come but also how far we still have to go.

Massey says, “I think we’re there – we understand now hat love is love. We’re not in control of who we love, and everyone, in all their imperfections, has a right to be who they are. And is a blessing. ”

Multi award winning Massey has worked in film, TV and the stage. She admits to her love of working in the theatre describing it as her absolute crack. ” I love the audience; I love the give and take. I love feeling that each night we are making something beautiful together. ”

Massey loves to tell all the stories and to play all the characters. “What’s important to me is that the writing is excellent and that I am in a collective of creative people working collaboratively and respectfully together and with joy,” she says.

A powerful story about love, forgiveness and acceptance, Holding the man is a must see.

Says Massey, “It will make you turn to your loved ones, to your parents to your children, whoever you love, and deeply drink them in. Life is short. Good theatre is hard to find. And this is good. Come – you won’t regret it.”

March 9 – April 14

HOLDING THE MAN – Belvoir St Theatre

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