Queer reinvention of Jane Austen classic

Even Jane Austen will be serving this WorldPride.

In what the Sydney Theatre Company promises to be a high-camp comedy, Hubris and Humiliation will swap drawing rooms and country estates for post-plebiscite Sydney gay bars and Kirribilli mansions.

Naive, mediocre and a wallflower, protagonist Elliott is tasked with finding a rich man to marry after his mother loses her house to a catfish.

As the play follows the Queenslander's quest to wed, playwright Lewis Treston interrogates the functions of marriage and money with a distinctly queer aesthetic.

"Why are queer people running towards this institution that straight people seem to be leaving in droves?" Lewis Treston told AAP.

"As I wrote the play, I wanted to develop a character who was well-suited to this heteronormative definition of marriage while being queer."

New same-sex marriages have been declining in number since they were legalised in 2017 - following the trend for heterosexual marriages.

Still, about 90,000 couples wed in 2021, including 2800 same-sex couples.

"It's unchallenging to think, 'oh, marriage bad' or 'marriage outdated' because people continue to do it," Treston said.

"But what's the alternative? How do you build a life without it?"

Director Dean Bryant was drawn to the play because of "Lewis' brilliant updating of the classic Austen 'marriage plot' to modern-day Sydney".

Treston concedes that most people don't think about camp when they think about Austen but promises the influence is there.

"Camp is both inside and outside of the thing that it's representing," he said.

"It's parodying it whilst also earnestly committing to what it is.

"There's a lot of academic discourse about this sort of camp influence that exists in Austen and I've sort of exaggerated and extended and contemporised it.

"Life is excessive and over the top but it doesn't have to be untruthful.

"Camp is something to do with all of that."

There are many questions that exist in Treston's play: Where's the line between seeking a sugar daddy versus seeking a mutually beneficial relationship? What does it mean to be rich in Sydney? Gay in Sydney? A hot gay? What even is sexuality? How can you even be gay in Brisbane?

But while the tension of these questions excite him in a time where queer people can now marry, Treston isn't looking to find what answers are right and wrong.

"If you get 10 queer people in a room, you're going to get 10 different opinions," he said.

"So there's politics in the play but it's not politicking in an obvious way.

"The play is populated by queer identities but people live lives.

"Their sexual identity is one piece within a much more complicated puzzle of being human.

"I'm 32, so I'm not over the hill but you do think."

The kaleidoscopic pastiche of queer life, love and commitment will show at the Sydney Theatre Company's Wharf 1 Theatre from January 20 to March 4.