Like most things we were looking forward to, Full Disclosure Theatre’s Xposed has been on hold for the last eighteen months. But finally, the new writing night of short plays about queer life returns to Southwark Playhouse. And it was worth the wait.
Seven short plays were presented during the two-hour showcase, kicking off with Flop by Phil Charles. This quirky little short, directed by Chris Davis, about a man afraid to tell his partner he’s become impotent, and is subsequently visited by the God of Virility, was a gentle introduction to proceedings.
Nikki Hill’s Faith, directed by John Livesey followed. This beautifully written monologue explored the conflicts that can occur between homosexuality and religion, set around an upcoming same sex marriage in a church. Izzy Hayden delivered the performance of the night, with a touching and visceral approach to Hill’s script.
The audience may have worried that this version of Xposed had peaked too early, but any concerns were alleviated as Ashley Byam and Sam Craig took to the stage in Alex Britt’s brutally funny Blank Page. The two-hander, about a Grinder hook up that doesn’t quite go to plan, did not fail to engage the audience, and Matthew Iliffe’s punchy direction ensured this play elicited the first proper laughs of the evening. But despite the comedy, this is an astutely written play, and of all the writers taking part, Alex Britt is one to keep an eye on.
The first act closed with Front Seat Passenger by Lydia Higman and directed by Amelia Rogers. Another strong comic play about a teenage couple who have very different experiences when revealing their relationship to their parents. Ellie Cooper, Cecilia Rodriguez and Georgina Tack kept the audience enthralled throughout with their quick witted performances.
Opening the second act, Kate Reid’s Again and Again and Again felt like the one play of the evening that needs to be developed into a full-length play. With direction by Edwina Strobl, Esmée Cook and Molly Keogh whetted the audience’s appetite with this deliciously awkward situation that sees a former couple now reunited to discover they are now dating a pair of siblings.
While most of the plays so far had an element of comedy, the final two took a more serious stance. Jamie Hancock’s Low-functioning Queer directed by Robyn Lexi focusses on a high functioning autistic person attempting to date. While many elements of the script and staging were intended to reflect the lived experiences of the central character, the combination of it all made it difficult for the audience to follow, and ultimately it’s important message was lost.
Frances Eva Lea’s Donal, directed by Ed Theakston, closed the evening. A whip smart short that looks at the experiences of a pair of co-workers distanced by age but bonded by similar experiences. This is another of the evenings offerings that could afford to be extended, with compelling characters and plenty of scope for them to flourish.
Pre-pandemic, Full Disclosure Theatre ran Xposed regularly. It’s a wonderful opportunity for emerging writers, directors, and performers to have a staged showcase, so it’s return feels somewhat like a return to normality, but also reminds us how difficult it can be for new work to be seen, whether there’s a pandemic or not.