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THE TRICKY PART (article first published : 2008-01-13)

Sexual abuse of young boys by older men periodically hits the headlines as does the tremendous life-long harm this often has on the future of the child, often into adulthood if it hasn't already resulted in suicide. Many films have been made and stories written on the subject. The Tricky Part is an award-winning play on the subject by Martin Moran, an American actor/writer, which has been presented on the Musho Festival and brought to life by Peter Hayes in a riveting performance, directed by Jaqueline Dommisse.

The play recounts Martin's early school days, 32 years ago as a 12-year-old at Christ the King College, a strict Catholic school run by even stricter nuns, although Sister Christine was musically inclined and recognised the potential latent in the young boy. Martin and George, a friend he has met at the school, obtain jobs delivering newspapers and George extends an invitation from Bob Kaminski, a camp counsellor, for them to spend a weekend in the mountains. This leads to Martin being sexually abused by the older man while George is asleep in a beautifully-told narrative, and results in a three-year relationship until he was 15.

Now, 32 years later, Martin has written to Bob, who is now in a Vietnam Veteran's Hospital, and they have arranged to meet. Martin has great fear and trepidation and their meeting, all written in his notebook to which he refers, making for a very touching scene. There are several bitter-sweet references to a photograph of the 12-year old Martin standing on a canoe holding the oar above his head, taken on that fateful weekend.

Men shirk from talking about the tricky parts in their lives and the subject is treated very sensitively. Peter Hayes had the audience in the palm of his hand and with the clever use of lighting, movement and mood changes prevented the one-hander from being static. Childhood sexual abuse certainly has an impact on adulthood and it is no surprise that the play has won awards. Maurice Kort




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