OUT/STAGE/US night 1 review

OUT/STAGE/US is a new quarterly LGBT+ theatre event in Manchester, that presents LGBT themed short plays, films, music, comedy, spoken word and art pieces. Local LGBT+ artists have all come together to be showcased over the course of 2 evenings at the Hope Mill Theatre. Time, and skills have all come together from various people and places for this new event. 

For the opportunity to take part in the future events, submit anything that you think could be a good contribution to :

Writers/directors/actors –
Film-makers –

From the start, before the event even began, the atmosphere for this sold out show was just electric, people were excited to be there, excited to take part, and even with the slight delay due to technical difficulties (who hasn’t had those) the atmosphere never changed, it didn’t dampen anyones spirit.

We started with 2 lovely drag queens introducing the show to the very interactive audience, the intimate theatre really helped bring everyone in. Then when the gorgeous Ruby Murray belted out the tune, “I’m coming up” the audience was clearly hooked!

Party Train – Written and directed by Lloyd Eyre-Morgan. Feat David Joseph, Daniel Timblin, Kimberley Hart Simpson, Rik Barnett, Sam Blackhurts and Ciaran Griffiths.
I found the first performance to be an extremely interesting portrayal of the old adage of “pre drinks’ on a train and the drama that can grip any friend group, especially when it comes to relationships that form…or this case, don’t form as the characters particularly want them too. With a variety of ups and downs and some good old toilet humour, the audience was definitely entertained.

Man Hug by James McDermott. Directed by Aiden Ryan. Feat – Ben Baxter and Callum Scott
The second, took place between 2 characters, on the platform at a station. One leaving for uni, and his best friend who simps doesn’t want him to leave. What ensues is humour that seems to cover up something a lot deeper. It broaches clearly on the subject of struggling with sexuality, and how small events throughout life can really add up those feelings. The struggle that can come with trying to understand their own relationship and coming to terms with sexuality is a strong theme in this short play.  Looking at something that a lot of young people struggle with, it was very well written and performed, in a delicate and thought provoking manner.

Telling Dad – Written by Carl Loughlin. Directed by Andre D Chambers. Feat – Carl Loughlin and Ricky Tomlinson
The third instalment, was not a play, but a short film, titled “Telling Dad”. It portrays the difficulty that can be faced when a young man comes out as gay to his family, through the medium of letter writing, prompted by his boyfriend. Initially we are greeted by different reactions from different family members, whom all raise concerns about “dads reaction”. It really delves into the almost inner turmoil that a young man can face with what in some cases can be a very difficult situation, but also shows how while it is a hard thing to do, that acceptance is actually something that should be expected. With its final scene packing a huge amount of laughs and a surprise guest, it really opened the audiences eyes to what that situation can be like for those still struggling.

Mirrors – Written and directed by Neil Ely. Feat – Chris Hoyle and Ciaran Griffiths
In this 4th act of the first half, we are introduced to 2 characters in what appears to be a toilet cubical in a gay club in the gay village. It portrays 2 men, who seem almost lost in themselves, and who they are. Talking strongly on the use of drugs, their friends attitudes to the location, and how they actually enjoy the gay scene, even though, they both claim to be straight. It really depicts how acceptance can still be hard to come by even from those closest, especially when the 2 men who were perfect strangers start talking deeply about their lives, and what turns into, their sexual preferences, without the fear of judgement or harassment. Both actors did well in the scene, really playing their parts and getting into their characters…and what ended up being…each other. Nothing like sexual tension to drive the audience wild.

JockNight (Part 1) -Written and directed by Adam Zane. Feat – Adam Waddington, Michael Byron, MJ Manning and Sam Blackhurts
After the short interval, we were introduced to 3 men in bed, which was soon followed by a 4th. It depicted what appeared to be an orgy, in which all men were wearing the favourable jockstrap. With the hilariousness, that came from the youngest of the 4 calling for them to “fuck me daddy” which introduced the typical age issue, if not in quite so typical circumstances, and then the dangerous mixture of drugs, lack of knowledge and alcohol, we saw the rather gentle nature of one of the characters. When things then heated up again after a a brief respite, the whole scene became very serious, with the mention of HIV. Again it was the youngest and his lack of knowledge, that brought this up. What I really appreciated about the play was its attempt to inform and teach the audience, about yes the dangers of unprotected sex, but also, that while HIV is something that is very real, it is now something that is very treatable and the way the actors portrayed it in a very respectful and educational manner, whilst still managing to entertain. I was left wanting more and look forward to the next 2 parts that will hopefully grace out stages soon.

Masc by Gary Woods.
This short film seemed to depict what was 2 men in ski masks, and a young lad in a pink jacket. In what seemed to be an attempted mugging/homophobic attack, the young lad proceeded to dance throughout, even after an attack with a baseball bat. While I’m not sure if I have taken this correctly, my depiction of it is that, even though, he knew their reason for attacking him, he stayed strong, stayed true to who he is, and is not ashamed. What I also found interesting what the later homosexual relationship between the 2 attackers, who were perhaps doing what they did as a way to deal with their own sexuality and unsure feelings. Even if I have missed the point completely, I still enjoyed it from my point of view, and thought it was very well performed, and kept the audience gripped, as its not something you would usually see, and I applaud them for that.

More Facelifts than Barry Manilow – by Rob Ward. Directed by Ian Townsend. Feat – Ben Baxter, Darren Jeffries, Neil Smith and Kyle Walker.
This play took place in what appeared to be a night club in the gay village in Manchester. With 2 men, who met one night, and with a small joke, soon became married. An adorable romance that anyone could call goals. Instead of really focusing on their relationship initially it talked about the struggles of being the owners of a gay nightclub, how the dream held by one man, just couldn’t be given up, how the area just wasn’t as successful anymore, no matter what they did, how they changed it to bring customers in. It focused on the depression, and the way that that can alter peoples relationship, if there is no true understanding of each other or communication. With the almost heart stopping moment when we feared for the stability of this couple, we were brought back round, with a charmingly hilarious ending that had the audience grinning with the remarkably accurate description of a hen night, which inevitably saved their club, and relationship.

Cess-Pit – Written and directed by Chris Hoyle. Feat – Daniel JJ Timblin, Julie Edwards and Nisa Cole.
The final performance as always will stick in everyones mind. Being introduced to a jubilant homeless woman, sloshing her bottle of wine about, she sets up her makeshift home in the Gay Village. She is then interrupted by 2 teens, with one seemingly in distress about a cheating girlfriend. They befriend the homeless lady, and she then divulges her own wisdom, talking about the 80’s and 90’s, the effect of aids on the homosexuals, how losing friends was common, the fact that it was still frowned upon to be gay. Topics that people rarely think about now. It was hard-hitting, and while it was sprinkled with comedy, it really taught the audience the struggles that have been going on throughout the ages, but it also mentioned how some of those struggles are still happening now. This piece was really something that made you think, and I mean really think about what acceptance truly is, and that while yes we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go.

Truly, OUT/STAGE/US was a piece of entertainment that really opened peoples eyes, and made the audience think, there was just so much talent under one roof. The intimate theatre setting and occasional audience participation really helped set a tone for the entire evening. Everyone who participated whether on stage or behind the scenes should really be proud of themselves for creating something so unique.



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