Review: FutureQueer, King’s Head Theatre

Alexis Gregory’s FutureQueer is a scattered but imaginative and thought-provoking show in the new cabaret space at the King’s Head Theatre

“If things get too gay for you, please go to the safe space by the wheelie bins”

If you’ve been to the premises of the new King’s Head and discovered how subterranean its main theatre there, you might be surprised to learn that you can go down even more flights of stairs to find its cabaret space in all its industrial chic realness. Follow the thrumming beats of ‘I Feel Love’ and down there you can find Alexis Gregory delivering his new show FutureQueer, recalibrating his lens from previous show Riot Act to ask what queer people can learn from the future rather than the past.

Positing a future in 2071 where the whole world is queer (after a Padam-emic, there’s statues of George Michael on Hampstead Heath, a trans PM and you can lip-sync for your life at the Olympics), Gregory asks the question might life actually be better for queer people then? With technological advances leaping forward, climate change reshaping the world, corporate greed and queerphobia never far away, can we imagine that future 47 years away?

Drawing from academic texts and research, Gregory finds out that some people already have and so FutureQueer sees him adding his own queer spin. But he takes as a starting point of the work that Giorgio Moroder, Pete Bellotte and Donna Summer did 47 years ago, to imagine the future of electronic dance music whilst creating the iconic ‘I Feel Love’ and throughout the show, returns to this key moment of creation and imagination as an aspirational model for shaping a queer future.

Self-described as “part theatre, stand-up comedy, DIY queer lecture, pop-culture commentary, and meditation on disco music as a metaphor for queer survival”, it is unsurprising that the show does feel a little scattered. I admire the DIY aesthetic but there are moments when you wish the future included PowerPoint, too much time lost to switching from one device to another, finding correct pages, even passing a laptop round to play a speech.

But a diamond in the rough is still something of a diamond and there’s so much in here that is fascinating. Flitting between present and future, ideas of queer utopias are explored from queer-led gentrification to purpose-built communities, notions of transhumanism radically reshape how identities could be formed, the opportunities to come together shifting from orgiastic K-holes on the Heath to curated individual virtual experiences delivered by our very own drag avatars.

Will the future end up more dystopian or more Donna, we’ll have to wait and see. FutureQueer offers a mind-expanding into what that could look like, whilst gently but insistently reminding us that for so many, the mere act of imagining a future is a hard-won privilege that must be protected. It also makes a strong case that in 2071, we’ll still be dancing to a record that will be over 90 years old and still sounding like the future.

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