Three performers on stage present an intriguing blend of poetry and dance. The piece is split up into clear scenes, addressing different issue with relationships and gender through a queer lens. All three hold their own well when it comes to often challenging choreography, and it is undoubtedly an engaging watch from start to finish. Queer Words aims to explore, emote and shock: the last of these three, however, severely detracted from what could have been an exceptionally strong production.
Some truly outstanding moments.
Very near the beginning of the show, a performer encourages the audience to chant “dirty dyke” over and over with them. Perhaps if this was further on in the play it may have felt less out of place and deeply uncomfortable, however where it was positioned the actors had not yet fully gained enough trust to be able to command this moment on their own terms. A show about being queer should surely be a safe and comfortable place for queer audience members to attend, however this act could be highly isolating: particularly when you consider that when getting the audience to join in it then means that not only is a queer performer using this term but any potential heterosexual audience member could then being engaging in shouting homophobic slurs. To me, this seems about as far from a welcoming environment as you can get.
This form of relying on shock tactics is then repeated later on, with an audience survey on ‘whether you spit or swallow’. This crude attempt at humour greatly dampened the potential impact of the following section, where a woman went through stages of spitting out what she wanted to say to a partner or swallowing her words.
Ultimately however these criticisms do form just small parts of the show and overall much of their work is very impressive. They have some truly outstanding moments where the performers access a sense of vulnerability on stage. Strong moments such as explorations on the theme of masculinity are beautiful, thoughtful and displayed with a sensitivity which could have easily carried the whole show if they had allowed it.
Energy was in no short supply and you could really feel the performers give their absolute all to this fast-paced piece of physical theatre, making it both exhausting and exhilarating to watch. The moves were clean and well-rehearsed and the cast had great chemistry together, which is so important in this sort of work. It will be interesting to see if the trio can sustain this level of energy for their run but at the moment it is spellbinding.
There is a lot to value and enjoy about Queer Words and you can tell that a great deal of work and love has gone into the production. I just wish there had been more confidence and emphasis put onto the piece's sensitive side, as this is where it truly shines.