Having entered the LGBTIQ+ community far too late into my teenage years, I have never quite felt the strong kinship with my fellow queers that I always dreamed of when younger. I wished to be part of that perfect world of glitter, love, and liberation — what I hadn’t realised was that an exceptional, wild, and no-holds-barred sense of humour was common ground between myself and this eccentric group of ‘aliens’.
At the Seymour Centre, Queer Space 9 shows us the insouciant and melancholic side of the queer community. Following on from the success of last year’s Queer Revue, directors Harriet Jane, Shevvi Barrett-Brown, and Rory Nolan attempt to step back from the heated political core of Will Edwards’ 2016 production.
This year’s show tells several broader stories of ostracisation and belonging. The wonderful mélange of musical numbers and video projections showcase the best of the cast and producers. Their collaborations on parodies of High School Musical, The Big Bang Theory, Sound of Music, and The Little Mermaid are a delight, featuring the writers’ sharp social commentary and the performers’ flawless delivery. From self-deprecating millennial punch lines to a BMOCs (Big Mums on Campus) campaign video, the team prove that gay comedy is not confined to gay topics. Nick Harriot should be commended for his AV work.
Being a lover of absurdism and nihilism, the existential tone in several sketches, namely ‘Glockenspiel’ and ‘Hi Harrold’, is a pleasant surprise. The absolute dedication the cast bring to these acts ensure the comedic value is not lost on the crowd. The directors’ theatre backgrounds elevate the style of the revue to an almost highbrow tragedy worthy of the Belvoir. Perhaps these are glimpses into the future of Queer Revue; a show by people of the LGBTIQ+ community created for the oblivious general public.
The absence of voiceovers in the first act is noteworthy, especially given jokes told by invisible overlords played a central role in the success of last year’s production. It’s a bold move to put little emphasis on a theatrical device most other revues rely on, and a sign the Queer Revue team wants to mature and develop, with the hopes of making it a true theatre experience that takes it beyond the Reginald basement.
But the show isn’t without flaw: there’s no evidence of a central thread or plotline that holds the skits together, apart from a few extraterrestrial references here and there. The finale seems like a last-minute addition (its contrived nature not resonating with the crowd) — that some cast members stumble over words and are off-beat in the dance routine about a giant squid only further its failure to land.
Even throughout the disjointed sketches, the phenomenal cast shine. The commitment to their characters is unparalleled. They are not deterred by silence, nor are they afraid to bare it all, physically and emotionally. The willingness by this motley crew to be vulnerable makes them shining stars in a universe of fizzling identity revues. Aidy Magro’s debut makes us wonder where this talent has been hiding throughout the seasons. Ursula will try to steal Holly Brooke’s voice, I will raid Queer Revue‘s costume department, and the Law Revue might want to recruit some of the other stars of Queer Space 9 to launch itself out of its current jaded torpor.
I discovered that to be ‘a gay’ is not to be perfect or glamorous. It is to be utterly incongruous, unfiltered, and flawed in the most beautiful way, unfettered by censorship or condemnation. Queer Revue has always been bold despite its modest budget and uniquely intimate due to its small team. You will come through the doors expecting a simple gay show, and you will be greeted by the complexity of wit and comedy of a team that is characterised by their collective sexualities, but not constrained by them. I am excited for what a moody and angsty Queer Revue has in store for us.