Queers, a collection of eight monologues curated by Mark Gatiss, was originally presented on stage and screen in 2017 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act. Two new pieces are now available on The Old Vic’s Youtube Channel, commissioned to mark this year’s Pride Month and celebrate the wider LGBTQ+ community. The additions certainly feel warranted as they are the first pieces in the series to celebrate women of colour and involve voices from the transgender community.
Bee, written by Jade Anouka, offers conversational insights into contemporary issues such as dating throughout the pandemic, the repurposing of the Pride Flag to celebrate the NHS, and the dwindling number of queer spaces. I Threw It, written by Travis Albanza, cleverly parallels the actions of Marsha P. Johnson in an amusing piece about taking action, getting credit, and being heard. Anouka and Alabanza, both very accomplished in their own right, have provided thoughtful, unique and powerful contributions to the Queers collection.
Pearl Mackie, as the titular character in Bee, is very charismatic and wins the audience over from the outset. She is a fantastic storyteller and provides plenty of laughs as we follow her erratic thought process, entertainingly going on a tangent before looping back to her original point. Mackie’s engaging persona follows through to the more reflective moments too, as she holds the audience’s attention through a number of important topics without ever getting too heavy or breaking the flow of her sporadic thought process.
A highlight of this piece is Bee’s frustration over the Pride flag becoming an NHS symbol, something which a lot of viewers will likely agree with. What could be presented as a throwaway rant becomes a moving expression of genuine concern due to Mackie’s earnest and thoughtful performance.
Kim Tatum has a lot of fun performing I Threw It, taking advantage of the comedy beats throughout, and captivates the audience during the piece’s intriguing opening. There are definitely heartful moments within the performance and it always strikes a chord watching queer performers discuss experiences you know they understand; however, there are other moments where Tatum’s delivery feels somewhat performative.
The execution of I Threw It lacks in comparison to Bee, feeling clunky against the natural flow of its partner monologue, and this is in no small part due to the editing. There are ill-timed cuts between different shots which lack consistency on more than one occasion, which is off-putting to witness. Overall, it feels like less care was put into the production of Alabanza’s piece, which is disappointing for such a strong piece of writing.
Pride month may now have come to an end, but these new Queers monologues are a fantastic celebration of the talented and still under-represented voices which make up the LGBTQ+ community. Running at around twenty minutes each, these pieces are worth your time and further commissions would certainly be welcome in the coming years.
Queers is playing online until further notice. For more information and tickets, see The Old Vic online.