The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

The title of this show is one which caused me concern, often shows with slurs in the titles do not treat the subject matter with respect or dignity. I am glad to say however that in this case, the use of the word ‘Faggot’ follows the original intentions of the source material, the 1977 book written by Larry Mitchell from which the piece takes its title, who sought to reclaim the word in a loving and supportive way. The creative team of this show have chosen to continue this legacy and are opting to use the word ‘Faggot’ as a descriptor with only positive connotations. This is the way in which I will use the word within this review.

This is a musical adaptation by composer Philip Venables and director Ted Hufman.  It is split into a series of vignettes, moving through history telling of ‘The Revolutions’ in which we learn of the Faggots (representing Homosexual Men) and their friends; Women, Women loving Women, Faeries and basically anyone who isn’t a cis-het-white male identifying person. We are taken on a journey where the ‘Men’ oppress and harm anyone who doesn’t fit in to their mould. It is a safe space where fables and memories are shared by the cast of actors, singers and musicians. There are times of joy, times of sadness, times of laughter and times of tears all packed into this 90 minute piece.

The entire cast of 15 bring this piece to life together, on an almost bare stage with only chairs and various instruments dotted around the perimeter they work closely to create beautiful soundscapes which fill the auditorium and take my breath away. They delightfully move from one section to another, as they take us along with them on this journey.

Kit Green steps forward as one storyteller of the evening as she brings the piece to life, speaking with grace and intensity of The Faggots and their Friends.  One particular section stands out as she breaks the fourth wall and whilst sharing her personal vulnerabilities, invites the audience to join in a sing along that whilst hilarious, poses a very important question of ‘who holds the keys’.

Another incredibly powerful moment is Yandass, who commands attention with their powerful words, sharing of how ‘The Men’ move forward with their intentions to make all like them. Speaking of the pain caused by their actions, Yandass is electric with energy, more so during the contemporary dance section they perform, utilising their fantastic movement talents to tell the story.

The only downfall in this piece is the fact it felt under invested, in that at times it felt as though I was watching a rehearsal rather than an actual performance. I would have liked to have seen more cohesion in the styles of outfits worn, perhaps more props or staging to aid with scene setting also. Though the lack thereof may have been a creative choice, it is not one I feel fits with the show in front of me.

This material feels so current and relevant, which is saddening, it reaffirms that although we make great progress within the LGBTQIA+ community, there is still a long way to go. This is a wonderful 90 minute journey and it’s an honour to have been along for the ride.

This show does come with an important content warning, it deals with sexual liberation in an explicit way. The production makes reference to discrimination and violence against the queer community, and includes a scene of simulated whipping.

This show was reviewed on the 25th January 2024 and runs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London until the 28th January 2024.  Tickets available here: The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions (southbankcentre.co.uk)

Review written by Rosie Browne

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Photo credit: Camilla Greenwell

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