Full Disclosure Theatre do not disappoint with XPOSED, a humorous and heartfelt night of new writing at the Southwark Playhouse.
A triumphant and titillating array of stories left the audience laughing and crying in Full Disclosure Theatre’s XPOSED, a new writing event showcasing eight short plays that aimed to reveal ‘the naked and entertaining truths about queer life’. They did just that.
The collection navigated the various intricacies of the queer experience, with representation spanning the breadth of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. And although some of the pieces did so with significantly more aplomb (there was a strong trend of improving throughout the night), every play had heart, humour and honesty at its centre.
The Southwark Playhouse was a hubbub of queer music and laughter, with a palpable air of inclusivity. The majority queer audience responded well to each piece, smoothly guided from play to play with a suitably comical soundtrack of LGBTQ+ anthems.
As is often the case with variety nights, there’ll always be a stand out project. My heart was well and truly won over by Slow Dating – exquisitely composed by director Eleanor Felton. Stylistically, Slow Dating is nestled perfectly between humorous and heartwarming, with a hint of hard-hitting emotional impact. Some pieces were somewhat heavy-handed in a bid to tug on the audience’s heartstrings, playing to the more obvious of queer struggles. However, the most effective pieces were those that harnessed a completely new perspective (or a wholly unlikely protagonist) whilst maintaining a predominantly comedic voice. Slow Dating captured this superbly. Writer Adam Szudrich takes a truly hilarious, unique situation and makes it totally tangible, which – when combined with a stunning performance from Tessa Hatts – had the audience laughing heartily right up to the bittersweet twist at the end. Throughout the night, marks of nervousness were apparent on several of the actors, but Tessa Hatts just oozed calm, control and sophistication in the delivery of humour.
Both In Need and As If We Just Held Hands showed a great deal of promise but just missed a beat that would have elevated them to the next level. The second piece of the evening (In Need) beautifully built up a curious domestic drama between a woman who had just been assaulted by her husband, and a woman (who happens to be a lesbian) who offers her shelter. The piece boasted fantastic performances from the actresses, who created deeply human characters and capitalised on every opportunity for comedy with subtly and elegance. However, I’d argue the plausibility and delicacy of the character development was lost in the final moments of this play – when two completely ill-matched characters with little prior romantic chemistry fall into a kiss. The action felt discordant for both of the characters, taking an otherwise intricate study of contrasting humans and turning it into somewhat of a cliche. There were also quite a few logistical and motivational questions that remain a mystery to me
Similarly, As If We Just Held Hands had some charming characters, authentic humour and genuinely touching moments – yet the staging decisions felt somewhat awkward and prevented the piece from reaching its full potential. Despite this, it remained undeniably feel-good and was a perfect note to end the show on.
A special nod also to We Have To Tell Jacob for the most captivating premise of the evening, in which genetic testing confirmed that Jacob is gay but his parents haven’t quite gotten round to telling him yet. With an incredibly intriguing concept, this play satisfies as a straight-up, pithy comedy – and although I would normally critique the caricatured performances, they suited this context well. The actors were clearly having a wonderful time performing, and it shone through – making it a real joy to watch.
Overall, Chris Davis and Sam Luffman can feel satisfied in having curated a hugely entertaining evening with each play boasting laudable potential. It’s obviously incredibly important to share stories representative and inclusive of the entire LGBTQ+ community, and XPOSED didn’t fail to deliver.
Photography: Christina Bulford