Take the quest for truth, an examination of religion and the passionate entanglements of gay lust, and you have the ingredients of the Pacific Theatre’s season-opening play.
“The Busy World Is Hushed is really about religion and family,” gay New York playwright Keith Bunin says of his work.
“These are things I have a lot of questions about and not a lot of answers about.”
Bunin says if his audience is looking for answers they will have to look elsewhere.
“All you can really do is come to a deeper understand of the question and why you are asking it,” he adds.
The play’s plot is built around an unconventional relationship of convenience that includes an Episcopalian priest (Hannah), her rebellious, often-absentee son (Thomas) and the writer (Brant) she has hired to help her translate an archaic gospel believed to predate the Christian Bible.
All the characters are struggling to find truth in their lives.
When Hannah suspects an attraction blossoming between Brant and her fly-by-night adult son, she uses their passion as a pawn to keep Brant hooked on the complexities of religion and her life’s work. But Brant is dealing with his own questions about faith, love and destiny as he is forced to face his father’s terminal cancer and his growing desire for free-spirited Thomas.
While homoerotic threads are woven throughout the production, says Bunin, you will never find a “token gay” character in his work. “I never want to write a gay best friend [into a play] just to include that for the purpose of visibility.”
That said, Bunin embraces being a queer artist and says being gay permeates his work. “It is always a colour in the palate, and sometimes it’s stronger in certain pieces.”
The play premiered in New York in 2006 and has since hit stages across North America and Australia.
Next up for Bunin is a play about a gay nightclub singer, set in 1958.