To Be Me

To Be Me pairs a recording of Kate Tempest’s poetry and live dance choreographed by Julie Cunningham; it’s a risky undertaking which is both fascinating but, at times, teeters on the edge of not working.

At times Tempest’s voice soars in extraordinary, incantatory evangelical ecstasies with in-the-moment street language

The show takes on the subject of gender fluidity through exploring the myth of Tiresias who was born a man but transformed into a woman. The four dancers (two males and two females), wear variations of red and black close-fitting outfits and two, with shaven heads, have an androgynous quality.

Their movements too are not gender-specific. There are no lifts. In couplings, neither one or other is dominant. Abstract minimalism rules with only the barest of hints at gesture echoing an occasional word in the poetry. The technique of all four dancers is impressive.

Julie Cunningham's training in ballet is evident, yet the emphasis on clarity of line and precision reflects more her experience working for Merce Cunningham (no relation). But whereas Merce liked to concentrate on dance divorced from music, narrative or symbolism, Julie’s choreography closely responds to the rhythm and breath of Kate Tempest’s energy and the beats of her spoken word/hip hop delivery.

At times Tempest’s voice soars in extraordinary, incantatory evangelical ecstasies with in-the-moment street language, such as describing Tiresias as ‘born freak, born weirdo, born blind’ and ‘macho man ate cars for breakfast’ and her questioning of gender sterotypes: ‘The best girls will fuck like a man given half the chance’. And like all evangelicals, Tempest has a message, or several messages, from anti-racism to anti-capitalism: ‘You are more than the last pair of trainers you bought.’ Unfortunately, the cramming in of topics to attack and the bathos of lines like this one means the poetry is uneven but this is a small criticism against its power to sweep you away.

The main problem is that it is difficult for the audience to concentrate on both dance and poetry at the same time. Inevitably you find yourself watching one or listening to the other and in this reviewer’s case, it was the poetry, despite its flaws, that was the more compelling.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

Scottish Ballet

The Secret Theatre

Traverse Theatre

Antigone, Interrupted

Festival Theatre

Scottish Ballet: The Snow Queen

Royal Lyceum Theatre

An Edinburgh Christmas Carol

Festival Theatre

Rite of Spring

Dance Base

Juliet & Romeo


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Julie Cunningham’s mesmerising performances with Merce Cunningham and Michael Clark Company won her a Critics’ Circle Award. In Dance Base’s intimate performance space, she offers the audience a unique combination of precise dance and incendiary spoken word about gender and identity, inspired by the mythical Tiresias, who was transformed by the gods from male to female for seven years. To Be Me features four world-class dancers (including Cunningham herself) using Kate Tempest’s rhythmic, hip-hop influenced reworking of the ancient Greek myth in a visceral and lyrical recording from the poetry collection Hold Your Own.

Most Popular See More


From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets