I Was Kinda the Bad Guy is Jaz Johnson’s debut play. This coming-of-age story explores the relationship between Diane (Jaz Johnson) and Nadine (Noah Fence), two friends that have developed a relationship of extreme closeness, becoming “one soul in two different bodies”. Diane’s mum recently abandoned her and she is dealing with the repercussion of this loss, which has made her distrustful of everyone, with the exception of Nadine.
“It’s a sexy song about eating.” Francesca Forrestal says to the front row, before Oddball begins. She’s referring to “Bon Appetite” by Katy Perry that plays on a pre-set loop. At the same time, she’s limbering up – swinging her arms, chatting nonchalantly with the audience, and building a familiar relationship she carries throughout the performance – when the show has begun and latecomers enter halfway through one of her speeches, she unflinchingly welcomes them and instantly settles back into the script as though nothing happened. The ease with which she captivates and holds the room is enchanting in itself.
Within the first few lines we are promised “fully clothed catharsis”, and for Cameron, Carl, and Phil, this can’t come soon enough. The topics of masculinity and body image within the gay community are rife with misconception and misunderstanding, not least because for decades no one has talked openly about them. Now, in the age of Grindr and Instagram, where men are bombarded with images of washboard abs and profile bios loudly declaring “no fats, no femmes, no Asians”, it’s understandable that gay men are struggling under the weight of the pressure they put on each other and themselves. Cameron, Carl, and Phil want that to change.