Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Femme Ta Bouche has a mission. She has now got cancer and the time has come to go confront that awful man who tried to convert the bejesus out of her and turn her straight. Along with Mo Mo her grandmother and a documentary film maker they recruit – Stacey, they embark on that journey. Mo Mo drives the car, Stacey drives Femme on and they climb their way into an Arkansas conversion therapy camp to confront Pastor Bingham. Once there the confrontation is recorded on video tape before Femme manages to tell the assembled throng of her journey and their future should they chose to accept it. Acceptance is hers, though the Pastor seems a long way away from accepting that he has been totally outwitted.
Any LGBTQIA+ performance comes with a great big dollop of hope. There are issues which are worthy and some which give us difficulty because they do not open up aspects of the whole debate without opening up chances for us to put our big size nines in and make it all seem wrong. But any performance has to be judged on the merit in which it presents itself – as a performance.
And here I have issues.
I don’t have issues with the performances. They were great. I loved Femme and Mo Mo and the Pastor was beautifully caricatured in a way which was both grotesque and recognizable.
The script had issues but not enough to tip itself into the verges of being too much or avoiding conflicts with which any writer ought to be dealing. It did not play it straight, but then again was it ever going to? The opportunity for the big stunt was too good to miss and as a concept it worked really well.
The set had issues because there was not much of it and the lighting was used effectively enough whilst the highlight was the use of film. The opening set the scene with American Pie playing and being sung to which worked very well whilst grandma picking up a distraught young child who is punished for dancing in his mother’s dress and trying out her make up made little doubt with what we were dealing.
My issue was in the direction. Hiding actors onstage and at the back of black stage pretending that they are watching from behind bushes or somewhere where they are hidden or the jumping of gates that could have been done backstage when it looked like the fortress was guarded by a picket fence was all too much for me. Some of the interchanges between characters were also struggling to find a focus and whilst at the beginning the script had also some focus issues with which to deal, it found itself. I didn’t always feel that this was sure in what direction it was headed.
It does need time to bed in and have an audience breathe life back into it. Once it has had that opportunity as a company this one looks like it has things on the right lines.