Shove It Down My Throat – A Theme and Variations

Shove a couple of bus tokens into your pocket and go down to Buddies to see this show. Shove It Down My Throat is Johnnie Walker’s latest play, which centres around the real-life Luke O’Donovan’s case. Luke was at a party, got queer-bashed/stabbed, stood up for himself by knifing 5 of his assailants back, and was subsequently convicted and jailed while his assailants walked free….. at least that’s one version of the story.

The play starts off in a set of Buddies’ dressing room (complete with a memory lane of posters of previous shows). Johnnie, playing himself is soon joined by a fantastic ensemble cast of gay stereotypes who appear from behind a magic mirror to help tell Johnnie’s cleverly written journey to ferret out the truth behind Luke’s story.

Throughout the trip, we are treated to several different variations of what happened that night. Most of the variations are convincing. The audience finds itself thinking “that’s definitely how it went down”, until the next variation which seems even more convincing.

As if to mirror the current climate at Buddies, two-thirds of the way through the first act, the “gay stereocast” is disrupted by a non-binary character making a grand entrance and rightly claiming their fair share of the space from then on.

The story steps in and out of the third wall, poking fun at itself intermittently. Johnnie is particularly good at being self-effacing. At one point when pondering if this was all really that important, he gets the responses from a cast member “Well you wrote a play about it!!!!”. These little breaks from the play’s reality are so much fun. 

The story brings us to a cliff-hanger just before the intermission, because we find out that Johnnie is actually going to meet Luke (who is now out of prison), and get the real story. I’ve never more wanted there to be no intermission.

While we’re never sure which variation is the true one, by the end we’ve been fully entertained, we’ve been on a journey to find a truth, we’ve learnt a little, we’ve been allowed to laugh at current and past stereotypes without feeling guilty, we’ve even been able to laugh at ourselves.