Blue Elephant Theatre
All female company Naked Frank have created a fun, relevant show made for teenagers that aims to tackle homophobia. The work delves into the socio-political nature of homophobia amongst youth and more specifically within a secondary school context. The play’s strengths lay in its political output more than in its artistic form and with the target audience as teenagers, Naked Frank aim for a poignant place to tackle discrimination: Before It Starts.
Lou, Rach and Shan are all best mates and go to the same school. They are navigating the complexity of teenage life: boys, girls, friends, drinking and their boring PSHE lessons. PSHE class comes with an archaic teacher who seldom puts down the dictionary to teach.
The performers followed the courage of their convictions and gave high-energy portrayals never missing a beat. They showed a strong sense of ensemble each in tune with the pace of the work and each other.
It was regressive that the character of Lou was reduced to a “thick” selfie and boyfriend-obsessed female. If we want to also tackle sexual inequality we need to move away from portraying one-dimensional women. Particularly considering that there is a pleather of diverse female characters to explore, the target audience are teenagers and the show is called ‘before it starts’.
The moments of physical theatre were tight and I would love to see them with further development but they became somewhat irrelevant and lost in the whole shape of the piece.
The style and form was appropriately aimed at the teenager’s world with grime style beats and interludes featuring hooded figures who graffiti a brick wall. Again, I would have enjoyed seeing these moments taken further to an abstract or even other worldly place. This would have strengthened the piece and given variation as the show was a little too long and slightly repetitive in moments.
With further development in diving a little deeper politically and taking more risks creatively; this show should be seen by as many teenagers as possible. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I left the theatre thinking that the importance of this piece lay in why it was created and how great it would have been if I could have seen an artistic work that addressed homophobia when I was growing up.
This production has now closed, but visit: https://www.nakedfranktheatre.com for updates of future performances.