By Outbox Theatre
The Rose Lipman Building (Dalston, London)
It has been a phenomenal year across London for performance platforming trans and non-binary voices and stories. From Summer in London at Stratford East, to Joan at Ovalhouse, ‘gender fierce’ Chekhov at the Young Vic and Emma Frankland’s solo show at BAC. Then Thursday night saw simultaneous press nights for both Bullish by Milk Presents and And the Rest of Me Floats, by Outbox Theatre. I attended the latter. All of this work has, across the theatre landscape, created an ongoing celebration of gender, non-conformity and the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Outbox Theatre certainly continue that celebration with rambunctious abandon.
Showing at the Rose Lipman building, an old community centre in between Haggerston and Dalston Junction, it was my first time at this venue, but it was well suited to this effervescent show. A show that takes a frank look at the way in which gender (and sexuality) are still policed by individuals and society as a whole. A piece, to me, that felt like a song, broken in to verses by the chorus. A chorus marked by the performers shouting out different ages, and occasionally something that happened at that age, sometimes pertaining to gender, sometimes not. The verses in turn giving voice to one of the performers and their story. A range of stories, some positive, some not – but a broad spectrum of experience which grips us throughout. Director, Ben Burrata has created arresting images across the piece – a torch shining on naked bodies, lipstick drawn on cellophane, red balloons: single moments that linger in your thoughts and memory, bringing you back to the show long after it’s ended.
The real highlight for me in this piece were the songs, performed live by the company, I hadn’t anticipated that they were suddenly about to burst in to full song with guitars, piano and drums, so it was delight when they did. Elijah W Harris performs a new rendition of Teenage Dirtbag, at first moving, but soon becomes hugely uplifting when the company join in. And Miiko Toiviainen sings Bird Gerhl – an affecting moment’s pause in the piece, a pause for reflection on all that’s gone so far. It falls at a perfect place in the hour long show. The musicality of this piece is what makes it a winning night out. At the end I was pulled up on stage for a dance in what felt like a true celebration, and I was more than ready to be up there with the performers.
Though autobiographical, never self indulgent, the stories have been carefully crafted to resonate with any audience, regardless of gender identity or sexuality, and the messages are clear and eloquently presented, carrying us through laughter, tears all the way to the grand finale.
Book Now – On at The Rose Lipman Building until 23rd Sept 2017, before heading to the Birmingham Rep on 13th / 14th November.