Feature | Building (Hi)stories: Ladyfriends in Rehearsals

by Diana Miranda

Period dramas have become the ultimate weekend watch according to trending British media. And while Ladyfriends, written and directed by Clodagh Chapman, is pretty much suffragettes Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney’s story, this isn’t one of those dramas. Ladyfriends starts from the premise that Annie and Christabel are dating. Though historians dispute this based on ‘lack of scholastic rigour’, Chapman’s take doesn’t engage in these controversies and sees Chris and Annies’ dating as a fact. To her, a more exciting endeavour is to explore how people relate to history, and what lays behind re-visiting it and pursuing new readings.

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CONCHA, Brixton House

by Diana Miranda

As part of The Housemates Festival, City Lighthouse Theatre Company presents CONCHA, a one-person show (written and performed by Carly Fernandez) telling a semi-autobiographical story about intersectionality of queer and immigrant experiences in the UK. After the protagonist finds out they’ve contracted an STD, they navigate past and current relationships interacting with multiple characters through voice-overs.

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Bacon, Finborough Theatre

by Laura Kressly

Toxic masculinity is entrenched in contemporary life, from wider political and social systems to the minutiae of our daily interactions. It doesn’t just harm women; it also broadly shapes men and boys’ relationships with each other. One way this manifests is through displays of overt heterosexuality and other stereotypically masculine behaviour particularly in places like schools, where teenage boys constantly scuffle for power and try to fit in. Any new students need to quickly find their place in the hierarchy, preferably near the top. However, those who are already there sense their position is precarious so they bully anyone that could be perceived as a threat. Darren is one such lad who senses weakness in the quiet and bookish Mark who just joined their year 10 cohort, but Darren also senses something in himself that he believes must be kept in check.

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Somewhere to Belong, Lion & Unicorn Theatre

Photos: Sycorax Collective Presents SOMEWHERE TO BELONG

by Laura Kressly

As writer and performer Kim Scopes points out, bisexual representation on our stages and screens is limited. When a bisexual character appears at all, they are usually defined by their sexual activity and reduced to shallow, biphobic stereotypes. So a whole show about being attracted to more than one gender, made by a bisexual/queer person, is hugely exciting. Unfortunately, despite many great ideas and individual moments of excellent execution, this production feels like a disjointed work-in-progress with sections that only tenuously connect to each other.

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V&V, Vault Festival

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By Evangeline Cullingworth

Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West’s relationship is memorialized in their letters. Lifted from the heady Edwardian drawing rooms, phrases like, “throw over your man, I say, and come” or “I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia” are stretched out and poured over. We ache for their magnetic rapport and searing wit. We savour the sweetness of their intimacy, captured with their skill and made more beautiful as generations pass.

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Dumbledore is So Gay, VAULT Festival

Image result for dumbledore is so gay, vault festival

by Dora Bodrogi

Forget trying to get your Friday Forty tickets to Cursed Child. Dumbledore is So Gay is a play so good you won’t need a philosopher’s stone to give you life.

Meet our hero, Jack – a teenage boy who hates French, got sorted into Hufflepuff, and who is in love with his best friend Ollie. Life is not going to be easy for him growing up gay during the heyday of Harry Potter. His story is told in three acts.

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When the Sea Swallows Us Whole, VAULT Festival

Image result for coastal erosion

by Dora Bodrogi

Climate, sexuality, religion, growing up, friendship, abandonment, and cats come together in the dystopian yet quirky play. Natasha Collie invites us to a small seaside town on the verge of disappearing. As the coast erodes further and further, the waves and the merciless demolition authorities threaten the community’s homes. Coming of age in a place that is succumbing piece by piece to the sea is a strange experience.

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Be Longing, VAULT Festival

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by Dora Bodrogi

What if two women could make a baby without any sperm donors?

This is the central question of this play by Lauren Gibson. It sounds like the premise of a Black Mirror episode – and it would make a great one if based on this play – in which we explore the moral and emotional dilemmas of an equally promising and dystopian scientific advancement could cause.

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Body Talk, VAULT Festival

Body Talk

by Grace Bouchard

CW: eating disorders, body dismorphia

Within the first few lines we are promised “fully clothed catharsis”, and for Cameron, Carl, and Phil, this can’t come soon enough. The topics of masculinity and body image within the gay community are rife with misconception and misunderstanding, not least because for decades no one has talked openly about them. Now, in the age of Grindr and Instagram, where men are bombarded with images of washboard abs and profile bios loudly declaring “no fats, no femmes, no Asians”, it’s understandable that gay men are struggling under the weight of the pressure they put on each other and themselves. Cameron, Carl, and Phil want that to change.

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