Dissecting the way pertually sustained stereotypes from within the LGBTQ+ community define our sexual roles for us, Willy Hudson’s one-man Bottom is intelligently written and endearingly performed.
Willy Hudson’s intelligent and tender solo show, Bottom, dissects the LGBTQ+ community’s love (despite what we might argue) for labels. ‘Top or bottom’, ‘twink or bear’, ‘femme or butch’: for a community advocating the non-existence of the gender ‘binary’, Hudson’s rightly interested in why we don’t half seem to mind others. Weaving in the story of his first attempt to stick two fingers up (no pun intended) at the way stereotyping from within the gay community has essentially defined his sexual role for him, Hudson is articulate about the fact that even those who don’t ‘like’ labels may subconsciously try to enforce them. Because “people like rules”: they make the world easier to understand, they make it easier to conform in a community (who’ve often been made to feel ostracised for not).
There’s definite performance lecture vibes to Bottom; I imagine it’s enjoyably didactic for straight people, and for the most part, satisfyingly relatable for gays. Despite Hudson’s endearingly awkward and humble stage presence (which I reckon he may play up to – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, he had the whole audience on his side pretty much instantaneously), his writing is deceptively rich. He covers, pretty extensively, the extent to which the very fabric of gay culture perpetually re-enforces sexual stereotyping. He draws attention to the oft-unspoken reality that hinders homosexual relationships: the good chance of a suitor enjoying being the same – giver or receiver – as you. And he makes a great point about us rarely giving ourselves the respect we deserve.
Hudson’s likeable ability to laugh at himself and his work and pull amusing faces when the tech f**ks up, and his responsiveness to excited audience members makes proceedings never feel worthy or too introspective. There’s an unmistakeable scrappiness (and jitteriness) to Bottom, but again I’m confident it’s written into the script (or should be if not). It’s a virtue here – part of the aesthetic, and the reason the words come across as truthful, urgent and heartfelt.