Belinda, VAULT Festival

by Laura Kressly

Rose and Ruby are best friends and flatmates who met at Piper’s, one of the few spaces for queer women and femmes left in the city. Piper’s has announced they have to close so the pair are scheming about how to raise money for the venue. Turning to tarot and astrology as well as their own lives, queer joy ultimately emerges from the characters’ struggles as well as from the actors who play them.

There’s an intimate, casual atmosphere from the start, though this gradually shifts into the silly and absurd before the metatheatre kicks in. The first part of the story is rather convoluted, with the real regularly shifting into the imagined and back again. Some of these moments are more abstract than others, which ensures the style is varied and theatrical, but their meaning can be difficult to definitively parse. The transitions are not always clear, either. The use of both the characters’ and actors’ identities provides another layer of meaning, making the show as a whole thematically and tonally complex.

Ultimately, both the dramaturgy and the content is queer and messy. Whilst it doesn’t always cohere, individual moments are honest and revealing, particularly once the actors stop playing their characters and start sharing a version of themselves. There’s plenty of joy and anxiety, accurately reflecting life as a queer femme today.

Belinda runs through 12 March.

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