Bottom is chaos. This show shouldn’t work. And yet it does.
In an unhinged mix of monologue, cabaret, lip-syncing, ukulele strumming, and heart, Willy Hudson’s Bottom, at the Soho Theatre, is just over 60 minutes worth of heartfelt and hilarious entertainment. Writer and star, Willy, is on a quest to find out if he is a ‘Top’ or ‘Bottom’ (the buzzing question within the gay community) but even further, he is on a mission to find the true connection he desires but has failed to obtain. Having just moved to London, Willy is working four part-time jobs, swiping on Tinder, masturbating, and worshipping Beyonce – all ideal – except, there is no love in the picture.
His journey has maximum turbulence. The design is borderline messy and this production, at times, feels like it could crash and burn. So why did I, and every other audience member, leave with the biggest smile on our faces? Willy Hudson himself; he is infectious! Despite his writing overflowing with Beyonce, Hudson manages to investigate some incredibly pertinent themes within modern Gay Culture. As he exposes the issues with porn, queer culture, and hookup culture – he shines a light on how isolating “coming-out liberation” can feel. But what he also shows is the power of connection. There is the most tremendous feeling of community in the Soho Theatre on Saturday afternoon and that can only be accredited to Willy Hudson’s ability to connect with everyone in the theatre in a most effortless way. His heart is bursting throughout the stalls and at times, we feel as though we are actually around a campfire with him, having a chat while he plays his Ukulele. While his writing comments on core issues of the gay community, his performance leaves me feeling happier and prouder than ever to belong to such a community.
The cherry on top of Willy’s cake is the birthday party he throws for his icon, Beyonce, mid matinee performance. With a small, lit chocolate cake – both the audience and Willy sing to Queen B. With this, Hudson is even more endearing.
While I cannot say Bottom is a masterpiece of theatre (though it is lovely to see such accessible theatre with this BSL performance) it is a shining depiction of the power in the bonds we share and make. We all crave to be desired beyond our bedroom preferences and Willy Hudson’s Bottom screams that if you want love, it’s yours for the taking.
Bottom played at the Soho Theatre on 4 September. For more information see The Soho Theatre Website.