Femme Ta Bouche

Femme Ta Bouche: a gender-bending cabaret star with cancer, cooped up in rural Arkansas, wants to make a statement. She goes to the gay conversion therapy camp she was sent to as a teenager, in full drag regalia, accompanied by her Momo (grandmother) Jean and filmmaker friend, to challenge the homophobic Pastor Bingham.

It's a shame when a show with a strong, politically important message falls short of expectations

It's an ambitious concept and an important message, but sadly the show doesn't live up to expectations. While I'm all for more queer representation in theatre and at the Fringe, it needs to be delivered well and Femme Ta Bouche fell short. Shows with fewer props, lighting and music need to be held up by strong writing, and this regrettably had neither.

Written and performed by Teddy Walker, this piece of new writing from company A Drunken Sailor is promoted as being a 'melodram-edy', and while there wasn't a shortage of audience laughter at the right times, the writing was not strong enough to be anything close to melodramatic. At numerous points I was left bored, waiting for something to happen, and it felt like the most important parts of the story were not given enough time and were instead rushed towards the end.

Walker's performance was strong considering the show's shortcomings, as well as the rest of the cast. In between scenes, video montages were shown from Femme's childhood and past, which featured an impressive performance by young actor Fraser James Holmes.

Some parts of the show didn't feel like they fitted in with the wider narrative. A frank conversation about racism and segregation in the Deep South felt shoehorned in, as well did the numerous moth metaphors that didn't really land. There are only so many times you can say "shut your mouth" in reference to the name of the show and the character before it gets old.

It's a shame when a show with a strong, politically important message falls short of expectations, but in order to convey this message as it deserves to be conveyed, there is a lot of scope for improvement.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

'Goddamn it, shut your thin-lipped mouth! You need to shut your mouth and just listen for once, OK!?' Femme Ta Bouche has cancer. Cooped up in her grandmother's trailer in Arkansas to convalesce, she longs to be back on the stage in New York. Instead, she plans one last outrageous stunt – she will return to the gay conversion camp she attended as a teen in full gender-bending regalia, a queer beacon of fabulosity for the kids subjected to Pastor Bingham's hatred. A melodram-edy for fans of Almodovar.

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