Today, when we think about sexuality, we tend to see broad (but not total) acceptance and can at times take it for granted. After watching Unmasked Theatre's A Very Great Mischief, which focused on a lesbian couple wanting to find acceptance in the 1920s when it was illegal, we are reminded of the great struggles of the past that paved the road for the acceptance of today.
A Very Great Mischief was colourful, vibrant and full of sass.
We were introduced to Victoria, a flamboyant young writer finding her way in the world with her Parisian girlfriend and muse Celeste. From the word go, it is clear that their connection as a couple is deep and comforting to watch. From the way they lovingly held and doted on each other, to the subtle and light touch of the other's hair, we are immediately engaged with the journey ahead - especially when it came to telling their parents about their relationship. The way the characters explored love and wanting people to accept who they are was touching, sweet and affectionate and we root for them. Even when the sensible sister entered the equation and guessed they were 'queer', the dynamic of these three characters is engaging, now having a strong ally in the camp, keeping them on track. Each performance from this triangle was energetic, dedicated and worked so well together on stage.
The vibrant, yet sensitive and supportive writing from Harriett O'Neill not only made this play come to life, but the research made into the set, costumes and hair of the 20s was so well carried out that the audience thought they had transported back through time. Even when Victoria's parents were introduced, it was clear that they had very different ideas when it came to homosexuality - especially the father role when depicted via Victoria as 'wanting the slave trade back', blatantly stating that this was going to be a struggle between past thoughts and ideas, as opposed to how the young saw things then. This was portrayed extremely well as silence was used in this particular coupling, illustrating stoic discomfort.
The only suggestion to be made here is to address the occasional imbalance of silence and fast-paced energy. Sometimes the pace was so fast that we didn't have a chance to laugh, or it dropped so much that we weren't sure whether to laugh until a well-timed line came in from Celeste and Victoria out of nowhere. With a slight redress of this balance, this play would be absolutely perfect.
A Very Great Mischief was colourful, vibrant and full of sass. A hidden gem.