Queer Words, a show in which stand-up comedy meets dance theatre, can be seen at the Greenside, in the Forest Theatre. It is presented by Autin Dance Theatre, from Birmingham, established by Johnny Autin – international dance artist, choreographer and director of the show, who makes his debut at the Fringe.
The all-LGBTQ cast features Bethany Slinn – a socially-engaged poet from Birmingham, and two dancers – Joshua Toft-Wild and Oliver Sale. Bethany narrates the show, changes its dynamics and interacts with the audience. Bold, loud, sometimes purposely overdrawn, she is a true charismatic leader and an activist, which she herself admits at the end of the show – “I am an activist. Yes, I still use that word.” Meanwhile, the dancers approach their bodies like ductile materials, illustrating either Bethany’s words or their own stories, and blurring all the socially imposed lines. No matter, if in high heels, fishnet tights and cartoonish make-up, or barefoot, shirtless, with dishevelled hair, they embody pride and activism in a deeply physical way.
Indeed, this is what Queer Words is about – blurring the lines, pushing the limits, questioning gender and sexuality. These topics are raised in a series of sketches, interlaced with modern, vibrant dance choreographies. The sketches differ from each other – some are brilliant, some sound a little bit too exalted; some raise controversies, some touch upon personal issues. However, all of them comprise a very unconventional and fresh voice of young LGBTQ generation.
It is worth remembering though, that, as the title suggests, the show is very queer. Therefore, both the jokes and the issues from Queer Words, are exclusive and may not be understood by everyone. Keep it in mind when you think of taking your friends or – Heaven forbid! – your mother, to see this show with you.
Most of all, however, nothing can fill a heart of a viewer with more joy than watching young artists literally bodily committed to the show – sweaty, hairy, gasping, shaking, falling over. The cast of Queer Words makes the spectacle authentic, truthful and meaningful. Thanks to the trio of one poet and two dancers, the show, in spite of the title, is not necessarily about words, but primarily, about emotions and experiences – of both the actors and the audience.