Brighton Fringe 2023
It’s important Brighton welcomes such terrific all-encompassing shows such as this, sashaying hilarity and superbly-crafted storytelling with dance and poignant witness. You can’t go away a bit unchanged.
Written and performed by Kit Sinclair (Gigi Star, Applecart Arts; Awakening, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe; Aeroplanes, Resight Pictures),
Directed by Charlotte Ive, Composer and Sound designer Nicola T Chang, Video and lighting designer Rachel Sampley, Movement Consultant Lola Brow, and Technical Managers Roshan Conn and Hann Sayles.
30 and Out is produced by Rebecca Prentice (Mermaid, Theatre 503; Gigi Star, Applecart Arts; Driving with Tim, Prentice Productions).
Till May 28th (17.00 start)
“So you’ve just seen me fuck a peach.” After such a trad-wives multi-media intro out of Home, I’m Darling, nothing else will do. Kit Sinclair’s 30 and Out, written and performed by her and playing twice at The Actor’s Theatre before moving to London’s Pleasance and Manchester, is nothing if not fruity to its interactive core.
“Mum, forgot to tell you – I’m a lesbian. Sorry it’s late – fifteen years late, but grab a rainbow flag and don some Docs… I’m 30 and I’m coming out.” Tracing her last few years from around 2019 through lockdown and bursting out the other side, Sinclair’s an energised, engaging performer, who knows how to turn her own story into a black leather number so you never see heartbreak coming. In platform docs and glitter cannon. Making up for lost time the newly-named Kit seems shot out of a gun (cue movement consultant Lola Brow)!
Directed by Charlotte Ive, this is an impressively developed show. Composer and celebrated sound designer Nicola T Chang ensures the sound really is seamless as well as boppy, proportioned to the space. Video and lighting designer Rachel Sampley ensures there’s surtitles so anyone who can’t hear can follow this show’s scrolling of words, often documentary voices sourced (I presume) by Sinclair and producer Rebeca Prentice – make this both special and necessary. Beyond being a scream.
Attending Bryony Kimmings’ interactive theatre course, Sinclair declares, prompted her to add this vital dimension. It distantly recalls the same recorded verbatim mode used for queer experience in Sound Underground at the Royal Court early this year. Its form Sinclair says, ‘represents the complexity of queer identity at its messiest.’
As Sinclair puts it of herself: ‘On her 30th birthday, Kit’s left her twenties, her boyfriend and the closet. While her friends marry, have babies and get mortgages, she is starting from scratch in a whirlwind of drugs, clubs and heartbreak’. There’s also a ukulele, and no-one who hears Sinclair ‘Looking for a lesbian’ will forget her perched at the edge of the stage singing, just, playing just.
There’s poetry and exhilarating choreography as Sinclair launches into cool moves and club routines: the kind that earns some sadly shaking heads. Oh, and those oh-so accepting old friends who really don’t mind Kit coming as a singleton where puppies are given to the groom.
But worst of all is Kit’s imposter syndrome of having started late, of having had 12 years of nice childhood sweetheart Ethan when she was Kirsty and not realising, admitting herself to herself.
There’s an enormous amount of interactive witness. So to Kit’s core narrative surtitled, there’s a mesh of words from other witness, describing lesbian and non-binary experience, prejudice and wild nights, bonding, bondage, incredulity and laughter. The show, with Sinclair as its spine, takes a ribbing witness of others to tell her slightly younger self she’s not alone. Kit’s not listening.
Starting out, Kit has no idea how common this is, not even when she encounters Big Sue, the tough-love doorkeeper to the one club where Kit can find other lesbians (it’s hardly flagged up, despite all the hype). Just how beleaguered the lesbian community is, just how initially isolated Kit feels is related in a memorably physical performance full of gags, pratfalls, dress-codes, strippings-down and awkward elbows. And by your 30s haven’t you slept with about 19 people?
Till suddenly – feeling old beside all these 21-year-olds who can’t believe her age – Kit loses her virginity again, a one-night stand, then her heart-breaking heaven – a beautifully modulated northern woman Sinclair voices: laconic and hip to the point of parody, but not.
A moment of sheer affirmation’s knocked sideways by the massacre of 49 people in a gay bar in the US, a Dalston scene acid attack and a murder of five more. This show is as much about what threatens fulfilment from the outside as much as how one can self-sabotage, or simply find that the scene’s not as easy or loving as you’d like. This show is as much about warning and solidarity with LGBTQIA+ community as it is about Kit.
And there’s plungings in and out of one-night stands afterwards. Till Kit herself notes all the women she’s rejected looking on as she sweeps past with her latest One. Kit can’t yet see she’s as much part of the scene as anyone. A fast-track veteran.
Sinclair ends on a quieter note with an upbeat coda: she needs to tell us so much about this world, before she can end in a very different place. Asked to summarise Sinclair declared: “Because lesbians so rarely get to be messy and filthy and loud about their identity. And because it’s bloody funny.”
With everything thrown at us now, increase in transphobia attacks being simply the highest – Sinclair gives us the stats – it’s important Brighton welcomes such terrific all-encompassing shows such as this, sashaying hilarity and superbly-crafted storytelling with dance and poignant witness. You can’t go away a bit unchanged.