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Bold Mellon – Belinda at Above The Stag Theatre

It’s a fact that everyone has expectations of us, and it’s often very easy to fall in with those expectations because if you don’t, then are you the person people think you are? And what happens if you want to do or be something different? This, I believe, is at the heart of the Bold Mellon Collective’s show Belinda which I caught at the Above the Stag Theatre.

Belinda - Photo by Lee Milton.
Belinda – Photo by Lee Milton.

The show itself concerns two best friends and flatmates Ruby and Rose, played by Amy-Rose Edlyn and Emilia Nurmkhamtova. They are the perfect combination of friends. Alike enough to have lots of shared experiences and ideas but different enough to be able to challenge the other’s ideas and thoughts. This night, the two are doing a tarot reading whilst consuming crisps and oranges. As the cards are turned, they expose the friends to new ideas which make them question themselves ad the world around them.

Written by the two performers, Belinda is an intriguing work that delves into the complexity of queer culture. It examines our relationship with places, and their importance to the LGBT+ community. A subject that is particularly relevant when you see the ongoing vigil to protect and re-open Camden’s Black Cap pub. But it also looks at what it means to be a queer person in today’s society. Yes, acceptance is there but only if you conform to the norms set by the heterosexual and LGBT+ communities because if you don’t then it’s easy to feel that you don’t belong after all.

The play itself is nicely written and performed. Edlyn and Nurmkhamtova really threw themselves into their roles and were an engaging pair to watch and listen to. While there were elements that completely passed me by – balloons and the preponderance of oranges for example – there was enough in the production to keep me not only entertained but also interested in the lives of these two young people. I found the reference to Winnie the Pooh and Piglet really fascinating as I had read an article that morning about how each of the main characters living in the Hundred Acre Wood resembles a mental illness. Given the context of the play, I thought this link was fascinating.

Youssra Manlaykhaf’s videography and Ruby Ingleheart’s live oil projections along with vikka’s Sound and Rachel Sampley’s Lighting Design made the production look and sound really good. But there were a few times when I found myself distracted by the beauty of the projection and not paying as much attention as I should have been to the dialogue. I’m not sure everything worked in the production and would have liked to see the characters possibly fleshed out a bit more.

But, having said that, whilst I might not necessarily be the target demographic for the production, I still enjoyed the show and the realisation that despite being considerably older, I had a lot of the same worries and concerns as Ruby and Rose.

3 Star Review

Review by Terry Eastham

In a palpably tense tarot reading, best friends Ruby and Rose peel back their queer impostor syndrome, squeeze their subconscious and expand the latex of their joyful, queer bubble.
Igniting their fears and leaning into the surreal, Belinda combines British narrative with Eastern European flair; delving into the complexity of queer culture in a society which demands we be digestible.

Bold Mellon – Belinda
Sunday, 24 July 2022
Above The Stag Theatre & Bar
72 Albert EmbankmentEngland, SE1 7TP

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