Bee Scott’s very funny Mission Creep proves an impressive exploration of some of the more neglected facets of queer identities at the White Bear Theatre
“What the fuck do you think this is, The Handmaid’s Tale in space?”
It can sometimes feel like every day is marking something or other – it’s Black History Month, today is both #PronounsDay and #WorldFoodDay, next week is Asexual Awareness Week and while it is all too easy to roll one’s eyes at yet another date, there’s something invaluable about the opportunities they offer to open our eyes to the rich plurality of the world around us. So words like queerplatonic and asexuality are bandied around in Bee Scott’s new queer sci-fi play Mission Creep, it proves an educative as well as entertaining experience.
And it really is entertaining. For all the weighty themes here – a nuclear apocalypse rages around the characters – Paul Anthoney’s production is a finely calibrated comedy, fully embracing the ridiculousness that is sure to accompany the end of the world. Asexual Tess and bisexual Liam have clocked how to escape impending doom, by gaming their fertility to sign up to an intergalactic relocation project. They just need to convince the authorities that they’re a regular cishet couple ready and willing to procreate. Easy, right…?
Together with intimacy director Enric Ortuno, Emilia Stawicki and Charlie Maguire do a wonderful job at negotiating this boundary, questioning how far they’re willing to go in the name of escape. Stawicki excels at the physical comedy of Tess, someone unsure of how to be convincingly demonstrative in her affections, and Maguire’s Liam mines a more emotional path as he tries to surreptitiously deal with the boyfriend he’s leaving behind. Even in this short space of time, the strength of their queerplatonic bond is undoubtable – not romantic, not sexual, but no less meaningful for that.
Without overegging it, Scott layers in real depth into her writing as she works in passing references to biphobia – bisexuality does not equal promiscuity – and the increasingly darkening situation outside. And though she could easily have been a third wheel here, she gives pen-pusher Mary real purpose (something neatly reflected in the traffic light unity of the costumes), Carmella Brown relishing the myriad opportunities for wry, almost absurd humour alongside a note of inescapable desperation. An impressive exploration of some of the more neglected facets of queer identities then, and a refreshing change from your usual coming-out narratives – recommended.