Tender and titillating, The Butch Monologues at the Soho Upstairs is a queer delight which explores the intricacies of gender, gender expression and sexuality through a diverse array of verbatim accounts.
The Butch Monologues, developed and performed by The Drakes in collaboration with hotpencil press and Vital Xposure, is a comedic yet tender exploration of gender expression of Butch Women, Non-Binary and Trans identities. Exploring the queer experience in all manner of manifestations, these secret narratives are verbatim accounts collected from Europe and the US cut into a beautiful journey and performed by a mixture of professional and amateur actors.
Laura Bridgeman’s skilful curation facilitates the seamless progression through a plethora of queer topics: sexual and romantic appetites and dynamics, butch communities and solidarity, parenting, social expectations, mental health. Paying homage to its originator, The Vagina Monologues, each of the 53 pieces of varying length and tone, are delivered in an authentic fashion. The understated performances felt honest, at times heartfelt and often witty. The subtly in delivery allowed for the stories to resonate with a captive audience, however at times felt a little lacking in dynamism. This format can wear a little thin after 60 minutes without a punchy injection of action, which I didn’t feel was delivered.
Although there was a dense volume of content, the potency of the piece would have been elevated if the readers had been off script. That being said, the presence of the script contributed to the authentic charm of the readers, disregarding any notion of force performance. This notion is amplified by the sparse set and minimal lighting changes.
All in all, for those wishing to get an insight into this area of the queer experience, what better way that to these collated real accounts. Particularly in the Soho Theatre Upstairs, a homely and informal space made to deliver these narratives.