Vancouver Fringe Fest review: First Day Back has good intentions
High-school students may be more aware of their queer classmates nowadays, but they’re not necessarily kinder. In First Day Back, playwright and performer Rob Salerno explores the subtly pervasive homophobia of a fictional Oshawa high school in the wake of gay teen Ollie’s suicide. Salerno plays all the characters, whose reactions are sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising, as when Ollie’s best friend Layla recalls her lack of interest in helping Ollie set up a gay-straight alliance at their school: “What would we do? Like, all hang out and like gay people together?” We also meet a fellow student caught in the cycle of victimization, and we briefly glimpse the hope that eventually forsook Ollie. Salerno’s characterizations aren’t terribly nuanced, but there’s no doubting his good intentions.
At Studio 1398 on September 8 (1:15 p.m.), 9 (11:20 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.), 13 (6:45 p.m.), 15 (6:35 p.m.), and 16 (3 p.m.).