Quentin Crisp, played by Nigel Anderson, shines at the centre of the play. His unique wit and magnetic presence are captured perfectly by both writer and actor, with such a recognisable demeanour played with a natural sparkle. Crisp provides much-needed humour as the group wrestles with philosophical questions, but on the flip-side, Sappho (played by Anne-Louise Fortune) is a stern and earnest figure, whose furrowed brow and intense focus pleasingly jars with her amusement and confusion about the modern world. Hers was a world where people were free to love freely and her incomprehension that people have not always been able to do so is a refreshing but subtle acknowledgement that what caused the pain for all of the others is but a social construct.
The play lends much from others of its genre, with Lisa Loomer's The Waiting Room and Caryl Churchill's Top Girls sternly in the fore as comparisons. While it lacks the political commentary of the latter and the social satire of the former, its gimmick is watertight and lends to objective retrospect toward the unpleasantries inflicted on gay people for the last two thousand years. The insertion of Sappho is a shrewd device, giving the audience a child-like mirror who asks "but why?" at accepted conventions across the board. It's in its moments of innocent questioning that Would You Change? succeeds the most.
Would You Change? is a strong play with a lot of potential. In a different space it could be a different play, but in the confines of the Taurus fringe space, the night was (albeit swelteringly) intimate, lending well toward what was 75 minutes of people talking around a table. Both funny and moving at times, the concept is one that could move past its current form - with the characterisations so tight, I would love to have seen more conflict and culture clashes between them. But as it stands, the play is a strong and fascinating miscellany, even just as a realisation of a fantasy dinner party. Oh and if I had my way, I'd pop Oscar Wilde in there too. Obviously.