Archive for July, 2019

Review – Queerstory – Mercury Presents at Mirth, Marvel and Maud

July 24, 2019

You remember that little show that was on as a preview for one night only except you were doing your own show and teleportation hasn’t been invented and it sold out anyway? Well, there’s been some good work on time travel in the meantime, and thanks to the power of The Future, Alexander Luttley / Pi the Mime / Mercury and Professor Maxim brought their show Queerstory back for a one-off show at Mirth, Marvel and Maud in Walthamstow (the venue itself, a converted cinema, is well worth checking out any time: not only does it have a pleasant beer garden, but there are TWO pinball games inside at 50p a game – Bride of Pinbot and Galaxy for fellow connoisseurs).

To be honest I didn’t know too much ABOUT Queerstory other than that Mercury was doing it and it was something about queer history, but it just sounded SO good and the more I’ve seen him do, the more I want to see more (his work is more-ish, especially that fabulous Break A Lash thing two weeks back). But this time I made it and I can give you ALL of the juicy gossip about this … well let’s be honest, my expectations were pretty high, but I can now say honestly … fanTAStic evening, of music, history, and ALL of the queerness you could ever hope for! And Piers Morgan in a pig nose playing the accordion!

Mercury and Professor Maxim at Queerstory

Queerstory is, essentially, a mostly musical history of the LGBTQ+ (I think they had it as LGBTTQQIAAP and one extra for kink) community. We went through some basics (including, “If you’re riled up, there’s a safe word. It’s called the exit”), including the very crucial concept that history is written by the winners, and this community has frequently found itself erased (not helped at all by Section 28) from history books. We went through the meaning of the acronym, then did a little alphabet of queerness with various people for each letter (both Vita and Virginia making it in for V!). We had paper and pencil so we could take notes and research later. School was in session!

Not surprisingly, this show had a strong root in musical theater, using “The Cellblock Tango” to provide a fantastic cruise through the homophobes’ book of excuses and “Let’s Fall In Love” to talk about famous lesbians. There was a stop in Spoliansky Weimar for “Lavender Nights,” but also a completely original Polari pattersong! (Given that I’d just seen Ida Barr – Christopher Green – do a Polari rap, it was feeling VERY much like the summer trend of 2019.) And, to my delight, we came back from the interval to the haunting voice of Klaus Nomi. All hail our queer ancestors.

More modern history – post Stonewall – had a lot to cover, from the hanky code to the impact of HIV, but more importantly (to me) the evolution of queerness to where it is now – not just the cisgender LGB of yore, but a worldview that allows for nonbinary, that accepts asexuality, and that celebrates rather than excludes allies. Because … looking at where we’re at right now … this is no time for resting on our laurels. We need to stand up for each other, call out people within and without the community for being assholes, and not throw any one of our queer communities under the bus because they don’t fit it to mainstream society. We need to stand up against misogyny and celebrate queer bodies smashing the binary.

It’s true, at the end this felt a whole lot less like a lecture, and more like a rally, because all of us were standing up and cheering and feeling like, yes, we were seeing ourselves represented and celebrated on stage. Probably the only person who would really hate this is people who like their musical theater but just wish queer people could be a little less “out” and just try to fit in. But that night, I felt a whole room full of people saying I didn’t need to fit in to have a family of people who accepted. I was fine the way I am. And I loved it. Top night out and I only wish I could find more of the info (and lyrics) online so I could research just who in the world was the letter X!

(This review was for a performance that took place Monday, August 22, 2019. This show will be reprised in a likely modified and possibly expanded version at Theater Royal Stratford East in October. Details will be added as they become available.)