Review: BoyBi, Turbine Theatre

Evan Reynold’s BoyBi proves a sprightly solo queer musical at the Turbine Theatre

“I’m finally ready to let the world see me

After a brief run at last year’s Clapham Fringe, solo musical BoyBi has been buffed up and beefed up for its official premiere with a week at the Turbine Theatre in the shadow of the iconic-on-the-outside and now-soulless-on-the-inside Battersea Power Station. Written, composed, and performed by Evan Reynolds, it’s a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance of growing up as bisexual, a narrative that is still too rarely explored under the umbrella of queer theatre.

The structure of the show is relatively simple but it fits together so well in the way that its story unfolds. We meet the titular bi-boy George on the day that he’s going to meet his girlfriend’s conservative parents for the first time. She asks him to change his shirt because, well, she thinks it is a bit too gay and as a deep-diving conversation ensues between the pair, a series of flashback scenes take us through the last 10 years or so of George exploring his identity.

Parts of it are heart-breaking: the childlike glee of playing kiss-chase with both girls and boys slams up against teachers telling him definitively that boys can’t love boys; the trappings of toxic masculinity and football changing rooms destroying long-held friendships. But others are exultant: the joys of finally being able to “sit in the middle”; the new friendships that blossom once living your truth; the freedom to dance to Taylor Swift (if that’s your bag).

For a work-in-progress, the direction by Rikki Beadle-Blair and Yuxuan Liu is neatly inventive – the different memories being triggered by pieces of clothing is nicely done and the phones on strings were fun. Musically, BoyBi proves interesting as a very contemporary feel pervades, much closer to pop than musical theatre both in form and delivery and so what might be considered a bit lost in vocal precision is at least partly made up for in authenticity of voice.

The overall ambience is undoubtedly joyful and boldly matter-of-fact about the realities of being bisexual, not least the inane questions that others will always ask you (“are you not straight now you’re dating a girl”, “do you fancy every single person you see…”). And there’s a gorgeous little narrative rug-pull late on which brilliantly points up our preconceptions (or perhaps just mine) – this is a show with much potential.

Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
BoyBi is booking at the Turbine Theatre until 30th September

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