My EQView feature this week is a review of Outings, a new show premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, featuring true-life coming out stories from LGBT men and women around the globe. It explores how they came out and what effect it has had on their lives.
My EQView review of Outings is here:
Cut and pasted from the EQView website:
OUTINGS – EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW
Outings is a new show, premiering at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, featuring true-life coming out stories from LGBT men and women around the globe.
The show is inspired by Tom Daley and opens with an audio recording of Tom Daley’s coming out video. Tom speaks of his happiness and contentment now he is in a relationship with another man. This makes an effective and uplifting opening, ensuring you engage with the piece right from the outset.
On the surface, Outings is a very simple show. There are four performers, plus a different guest star every day, recounting true-life coming out stories from LGBT people. But its simplicity is deceptive because it takes real skill to weave together such a complex, varied and wide-ranging collection of stories into a coherent whole.
The main body of the show is ordinary LGBT people from around the world telling their stories of how they came out and the effect it has had on their lives. The performers have the scripts in hand but the piece is very much performed and acted on stage, rather than just being read, and a lot of movement is incorporated into the piece. Performing the stories really brings them to life.
One of the stories that really moved me was that of a young man who came out to his doctor and his parents at a time when homosexuality was still regarded as a disease, something that warranted psychiatric help and may even consign you to a “loony bin”. He describes the horrific process he was put through in an attempt to “cure” him and his story is heartbreaking.
Another powerful story is not a first person coming out story, but the story of a wife of a closeted gay man. She describes the two of them living a life in the shadows, hidden away in the dark, not in the closet, but in the cupboard under the stairs. She explains how she feels and how her life changes when the light finally pierces through the darkness and her husband comes out and leaves her to pursue a relationship with another man.
On the day I saw the show the guest star was, unbelievably, Margaret Thatcher, Queen of Soho (currently starring in her own drag comedy cabaret show about gay rights, the 80s, and disco). The guest stars are used to recount the high profile media coming out stories, including Peter Wildeblood, Harvey Milk, Boy George, Justin Fashanu and George Michael. It was disconcerting, but incredibly empowering, to see and hear Margaret Thatcher delivering Harvey Milk’s speech about the importance of coming out to everyone you knew as a means of changing hearts and minds.
The staging is simple but powerful. I liked the Rainbow coloured scripts and the backdrop which was a noticeboard, also Rainbow themed, containing snippets of coming out stories and photos of gay rights campaigners like Peter Tatchell and Sir Ian McKellan. These light touches all added to the ambience of the piece.
This is a very topical piece, coming at a time when LGBT rights are advancing rapidly in some countries, making it easier to come out; and regressing in others, crushed through state-sanctioned homophobia, making it increasingly difficult and dangerous to come out. The piece shows you can only be free and open and honest if you are “out” and highlights why we should be supporting people to come out and creating an atmosphere where it is easier to do so.
All credit to the writers Thomas Hescott and Matthew Baldwin for choosing and presenting such a rich and diverse selection of coming out stories in an engaging and accessible way. The piece flowed along beautifully, at a quick pace, with never a dull moment. The stories were, in turns, comic, funny, moving, sad, heartbreaking, uplifting and inspirational, and each and every one made an impression and moved me profoundly.
I was interested in all of the stories told on stage and the time just flew by. I was so engrossed I would very happily have stayed on to hear more and, of course, the mark of a truly successful show is to leave your audience wanting more!
Outings is playing at 1pm daily, at Fringe Venue 14, the Gilded Balloon, until 25 August.
Follow the link to the Outings website: