Edinburgh Fringe 2016
“A Boy Named Sue examines the need for a sense of community in an oppressively hetero-normative world. It looks at how humans can form friendships in the most unlikely of places.”
Three monologues intertwined with a common thread. The three characters in this piece of magic realism feel lonely, need their community and seek love, the love of a man. The characters are all male and they seek attention in different ways to find their ‘real man’. We meet them all in turn as we get a glimpse into their lives, each one showing us how they are going about their quest. In a world where the gay community has disappeared these three characters are doing their best to survive.
Bertie Darrell has written a finely crafted play that is smart, poetic, gutsy and compelling. The monologues explore the inner thoughts and action of the gay characters in the now, and intriguingly cross paths into scenes between combinations of two, which adds depth to the piece.
How can we draw attention to ourselves, be noticed and maybe find comfort, no matter how temporary? Each character has chosen a fascinating way to attempt this and the result is surprising and moving. However, each moment you think you have it all figured out, another layer is exposed. This unveiling goes deep right up until the denouement.
Ian is angry; he’s having trouble dating. Louie is a teenager, who rents himself out to whomever online. Then there is Sid who is trying to become Sue. Each one has his foibles, hopes and dreams. Their reality and expectations may or may not exist or be met in the short or long term, but they are motivated. Anything could happen. Online dating sites and apps have transformed how people get together and hook up. No introduction is needed, other than a photo and few facts about the individuals, of either sex, to make a rendezvous. It’s all less personal which suits some but is abhorrent to others.
Sid is in his own world – he was probably a good guy but troubled, as he transitions to Sue, isolated at home, he finds consolation by watching people outside. As Sue, the actor is heartbreakingly real and tender, his performance a true highlight of this piece. Sid’s idea of how it is being a woman is fascinating. Where did it come from? Environment? Films? It certainly makes one reflect on what makes us who we are or want to become…and how circumstances influence the outcome.
Young Louie is grasping for anything. Ian, tries to find solutions in between his own deep set rage. They are all in limbo, waiting, vulnerable, waiting for their own match, a real man, in this shrinking population.
A Boy Named Sue is dynamic theatre and storytelling. Each of the actors is excellent and embraces an emotional range that is often raw and always believable. The staging, devoid of any set piece or prop is simple yet very effective. Strengths of this piece comprise the effective writing in three different voices, the captivating characters that are each finely drawn and the outstanding acting and characterizations. It’s well directed, interesting, poignant and deals with an important topic. It’s also an engrossing 55 minutes and very worthwhile. Go see!