Arts & CultureCampus & City

2019 Fringe Festival Review: The 3AM Subtext

Emotions run high in this fringe play

Yearning and haunting have much in common. 

Matthew Stepanic’s The 3AM Subtext is a brave, thought-provoking exploration of how people yearn for intimacy — and the lingering consequences of the vulnerability one needs to have to seek true intimacy. 

Entangled in a classic blue IKEA bed-spread after a successful Grindr hook-up, ‘One’ (Austin White) and ‘Two’ (Landon Nesbitt) awaken in a stir at 3 a.m. What begins as a flirtatious late-night exchange of spooky stories unfurls into an emotional and raw exchange. They’ve violated the unspoken rule of maintaining their anonymities — materializing before each other as flesh and bone and feelings. Their previously unspoken confessions and traumatic experiences find a home in the ears of the other person.

Anonymity is the sacred tool that allows people to float in and out of each others’ lives, without ramifications, like apparitions. When that anonymity is lost and someone becomes a physical entity, their loss in one’s life becomes much like a death. Perhaps the natural consequence of One and Two’s breach of the unspoken is that they will now be part of each other’s growing collection of hauntings. 

The 3AM Subtext’s queer foundation adds an extra emotional depth to the production. Far too often are queer people socialized to believe that to wish for intimacy is a certain invitation of the pain, of the unknowable and of the strange. This resonated very deeply with me — because, at the end of the day, we still ought to reach towards that unknown.

I left Stepanic’s production with a particular conviction — I’m not unfamiliar with ghosting people, but I think that from this point forward I will think twice. 

Pia Co

Pia Co is a fifth-year Sociology and Political Science student and the 2019-2020 Director of Marketing and Outreach for the Gateway. When she's not at the office she's competitively debating (it's cooler than it sounds I promise), playing slap bass, or cooking up a far-too elaborate 4 course meal.

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