How far have we as an LGBT community actually come? And do we have much further to go? Outbox LGB Theatre presents a portrait of the LGBT in 2013 bringing together devised pieces, verbatim, and physical theatre.
The first thing you notice is Harry Whitham’s set; it’s simple and versatile consisting of several moveable doorways fitted with blinds and lit with strip lighting. As skeletal as this seems you quickly discover that anything more is unnecessary as the sketches, testimonies, and movement pieces speak for themselves and provide the play with its hook and drive. But through Ben Buratta’s direction, Coral Messam’s fluid movement pieces, and Dominic Kennedy’s crisp electronic soundtrack these insightful vignettes become wonderfully provocative.
These are then played out by a cast of talented young actors who take to the stage with energy, wit, and abandon. The verbatim speeches feel incredibly natural as if they were their own words, and their characters in the narrative pieces are not only believable but also fun and/or moving where they need to be.
But the real joys in this piece are the subject matters they deal with and the treatment they’re given. Buratta has a lucid sense of juxtaposition that flows throughout most of the show. Popular song lyrics are also given a blissful contextual twist when performed as spoken word, black voices will be given white mouthpieces, young ones old, male ones female, and vice-versa. This stylised approached of deliberate inconsistencies only served to heighten and bring attention to the issues.
There is also an astonishing breadth of subjects dealt with: subtle internalised homophobia, the ludicrousness of online cruising, HIV, the inequality of modern laws, and much more. Yet at no point does anything feel skipped through or shallow. The combination of personal testimonies and short skits manages to create something deep yet concise.
The only criticism is that the variety wears off as the play progresses towards the end of its 90 minutes running time without interval. After a while the pace and changes in theatrical treatment become almost formulaic and start to lose their punch. Thankfully the subject matters are intriguing enough to keep your interest despite this. It’s also a shame that there weren’t more movement pieces too; a piece midway through looking at religion and sexuality was particularly striking.
It’s troubling, though, that when watching this play you really do realise how much we in a modern more liberated LGBT community take for granted, especially the younger of us. Not to mention the unresolved issues we all often overlook. You Could Move reminds us that we forget, yet this production provides mere prompts rather than opting for being preachy. The result is a fresh and frank zeitgeist that’s enjoyably entertaining and enlightening.
You Could Move plays at the Arcola Tent, London, E8 3DL, until 20 April 2013. Tickets are £10. To book visit www.arcolatheatre.com. It will then tour to Contact Theatre, Manchester, M15 6JA for a performance on 27 April 2013. Tickets are £8 (concessions available). To book visit http://contactmcr.com.