Don’t expect to see Israel Folau in the audience of RELATIVE MERITS.

His loss, really, because it’s about a footy player, Adam Grant, who states that playing the game is the closest thing to heaven on earth, that putting on the boots and ploughing through the paddock is rapturous, tearing up the turf is tantamount to being in the company of angels.

What falls foul of and for Folau is that Adam is gay – a fairy, a faggot, a fruit and God knows how many other derogatory epithets homosexuals are damned and demonised by.

RELATIVE MERITS kicks off with dilemma as football hero, Adam, suddenly and mysteriously retires from the sport, while just as suddenly, his younger brother, Clay, lobs on his doorstep a decade after they last saw each other.

ADAM has hung up his boots in order to come out, something that does not sit well with his homophobic brother, whose fear of the feminine has been fuelled by his fanatically Catholic mother.

The play, set in 1993, is an historical reflection of the hysterical times when HIV and AIDS decimated communities and fanned homophobia into a frenzy.

As its press release states, RELATIVE MERITS is made timely again by the current controversy surrounding another footballer under different – but equally disturbing – circumstances, highlighting hateful homophobia.

The real timelessness of RELATIVE MERITS, however, is the enduring power of love, true brotherly love, literally illustrated here, but universally intended and implied in the play.

Committed and honest work by Samuel Welsh as Adam and Isaac Broadbent as Clay under the crisp direction of Porter James bring Barry Lowe’s dialogue to compelling life.

James’ craft as a choreographer is particularly evident in the fight scenes between the siblings, expertly staged in the confines of the intimate space.

Produced on a g string and the smell of an oily jockstrap, this production of RELATIVE MERITS more than merits your attendance.

Relative Merits by Barry Lowe
Directed by Porter James,
Starring Sam Welsh & Isaac Broadbent
10-25 July: Wed, Thurs, Sun 8.30pm
El Rocco Theatrette, 154 Brougham St Kings Cross
Tickets $25 / $20 concession