Review: Safe

Alexis Gregory’s Safe puts the stories of homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people front and centre

“It’s a…phase”

A digital verbatim theatre piece on 

Taking its starting point as the startling statistic that 25% of homeless and at risk young people identify as LGBTQ+, Alexis Gregory’s Safe is a piece of verbatim theatre that allows those very young people to have their stories heard. It’s an arresting and sometimes challenging piece to be sure but a beautiful thread of hope runs throughout, leading us to a place that is uplifting but pragmatically so. 

Safe weaves together the stories of four homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people that Gregory met through akt. From stories of self-realisation to cautionary coming-out tales, families who throw you out to families who close ranks to try and keep secrets, there’s a skilful mix of experiences that whilst are full of commonalities, reminds us of how intensely personal one’s own journey is. Continue reading “Review: Safe”

Review: Body Talk, VAULT Festival

In its exploration of male body image in the gay community, Full Disclosure’s Body Talk is a valuable addition to the VAULT Festival’s admirable commitment to LGBTQ+ storytelling.  

“There’s only one thing worse than being skinny on the gay scene – being fat”

LGBTQ+ champions Full Disclosure Theatre took on open marriages to tremendous effect with Open at last year’s VAULT Festival, so my eyes were naturally drawn to their entry into this year’s event. David Hendon’s Body Talk takes a look at the thorny issue of male body image in the gay community, asking what happens when you think you’re too skinny, or too fat, or even too hashtag instagay perfect to fit in.

We meet three men, all approaching a significant birthday and all unhappy with some aspect of their appearance, to the point where patterns of self-destructive behaviour are ruling their lives. Carl is a thin guy who is about to turn 21 but can’t stop purging; Cameron and his abs have hit half a million followers on Instagram but on the cusp of 30, he’s not sure how far to go to maintain interest; and Phil is approaching 40 by staring down the end of several bottles of wine a night and bemoaning an expanding waistline. Continue reading “Review: Body Talk, VAULT Festival”

2020 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see

Insofar as it is humanly possible for any one person to know everything that is happening at the VAULT Festival this year, I present a handful of my recommendations for 2020.

In all honesty though, I think the best thing to do is just pick a night, go down there and see what tickles your fancy – the level of quality here really is something to admire and means it’ll be very hard to end up disappointed. Take a look at their website here.

LGBT+ stories

Body Talk – 29 Jan — 02 Feb
Full Disclosure Theatre take on male body image from the gay perspective, looking at the damage that can be imposed by obsessing over it.

how we love 18 — 23 Feb
Regi and Babs are getting married. She’s a lesbian and he’s gay but they need the cover to deal with the dangers posed by the prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality in Nigeria.

Notch 19 — 23 Feb
After the devilish fun of Ladykiller, the Thelmas return with this dark meditation on migration, homelessness and obsession from Danaja Wass.

V&V 03 — 08 Mar
Exploring communication then and now, V&V contrasts love stories past and present from Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s love letters, to Mia and Lottie’s online missives.

Too Pretty To Punch 03 — 08 Mar
A comedy spoken word show from Edalia Day about gender and featuring original songs and video work about trans life in 21st century Britain. Continue reading “2020 VAULT Festival – 20 shows to see”

YouTube: The Grass Is Always Grindr / A Gay Victorian Affair

I was introduced to (and deeply impressed) by Dragonflies Theatre a while back when I saw The HIV Monologues and so I’ve been keeping an eye out on what they’ve been doing ever since. One of their newest project is this three part webseries – The Grass Is Always Grindr – the first instalment of which you can now see below.

Commissioned by 56 Dean Street with support from Wandsworth Oasis, the series see writer Patrick Cash and director Luke Davies delving deep into Grindr and questioning what the hook-up app is doing to the community and the ways in which we communicate to each other.  Continue reading “YouTube: The Grass Is Always Grindr / A Gay Victorian Affair”

Review: One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, Birmingham Rep

“Let’s get together and feel all right”

There’s much to enjoy in One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, not least the joyous celebration of some of the most enduringly famous music in the world. And writer and director Kwame Kwei-Armah does a decent job at balancing the populist demands of a jukebox musical with something more dramatically satisfying. The result has been a sell-out success for the Birmingham Rep and I only just managed to squeak this into the schedule before it closes at the weekend,

Using 20 or so of Marley’s songs, Kwei-Armah takes us through an eventful few years in the singer’s life as the success of his artistry launches him from an accomplished reggae musician to international icon, pushing his concerns from simply getting records out to matters of national diplomacy as he finds himself intertwined in Jamaican politics. He also has internal conflicts with his band and a turbulent personal life to deal with, as well as converting to Rastafarianism. Continue reading “Review: One Love: The Bob Marley Musical, Birmingham Rep”

Review: Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure in Concert, Adelphi Theatre

“There’s something in the air tonight”

Just a quickie for this semi-staged concert version of Stiles + Drewe’s Peter Pan as my afternoon was pretty much ruined by the young family next to me, two toddlers quite literally running amok, uncontrolled by a mother who didn’t care that her children were repeatedly climbing over me. I’m all for theatres being more inclusive and welcoming to young’uns but the other side of that is that you have to prepare your children for the practicalities of sitting down for a couple of hours along with everyone else.

Which is a shame, as this is a rather sweet musical version of JM Barrie’s evergreen story of the boy who never grew up. Even with weird man-boy Ray Quinn in the lead role and the pantomimish Bradley Walsh as Captain Hook, there’s something really quite affecting about the child-like wonder of Stiles + Drewe’s interpretative skill, which still simultaneously offers up a more mature worldview – it’s easy to forget the deep sadness that lies at the heart of the story, Sheila Hancock’s Narrator providing some deeply moving moments. Continue reading “Review: Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure in Concert, Adelphi Theatre”