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Full Disclosure Theatre return with their new writing night XPOSED

Some recurring themes crop up in this edition of Xposed, which is absolutely, positively, unconditionally not a scratch night. That is not to say there isn’t room for development for the seven plays presented here, but they are complete short plays in themselves with no need for any lengthy explanations in the programme or on the production’s website detailing the context of any of the pieces. I treat the production as one play consisting of seven scenes, which isn’t technically what it is, but such were the commonalities between the pieces that the whole thing is very much greater than the sum of its parts.

XPOSEDThere was something for almost everyone, even a scene in a bar that did so well to portray the high levels of background conversational noise that would be found in such busy (and distinctly unromantic) places that a large chunk of dialogue was difficult if not borderline impossible to decipher. But there was a hard-hitting point made nonetheless about disabilities, which may not, as regular passengers of London Underground will have heard on recorded announcements, always be visible. “You don’t look like an autistic person”, quips Sasha’s (Paula Brett) date (Cinthia Lilen). Sasha, quite understandably, wants to know what an autistic person would indeed look like, to which no feasible answer is given (because no feasible answer exists).

But Sasha isn’t the only one who finds herself in an awkward situation. Andrew (Sam Craig) has Sean (Ashley Byam) come to his place: as he’s based in a part of London not served by the Tube, he’s unhappy at having to get there on the bus. It’s a sexual encounter, or at least it’s meant to be – there’s a reason why Andrew can’t answer a straightforward question about how he would like to, ahem, proceed. What results is a hilarious, if slightly bizarre, dialogue as Sean vents his spleen. Some of it was, frankly, rather unjustified – but it was brilliant theatre.

Then there’s the repetitiveness of ‘coming out’ (the evening comprised LGBTQ+ stories), in the sense that one doesn’t just come out, deal with responses (and, dare I say it, repercussions) and get on with the rest of one’s life. Rather, one comes out at various points thereafter, to the point of tedium and frustration. Given the supposedly more open and accepting society in which we are meant to be part of, there is much to celebrate but also much work to do. Francis (Georgina Tack) has an accepting mother (Cecilia Rodriguez), but relations with her girlfriend (Ellie Cooper) are sometimes difficult, because there’s a pretence that has to be maintained – even in this day and age, there’s concern for what could happen if they are publicly seen together, an ongoing scenario that leaves Francis unsurprisingly frustrated.

Organised religion, specifically the Christian faith, comes in for criticism, but not always for traditional reasons. Joanne (Izzy Hayden) had to, she says, give up a lot of freedom to maintain family ties, but her fiancée did not. It’s the other half, however, who still ‘habitually attends’ (terminology used by the Church of England, rather than the production) church services, worshipping in an inclusive parish, with a family who has no issues with regards to sexual orientation. Past experiences run deep for Joanne, and an invitation to church is met with revulsion, though interestingly she’s having a church wedding rather than a civil one.

Given the difficult and even painful experiences being talked about during the evening, there was a surprising amount of hearty laughter, mostly (though by no means entirely) through expressions of awkwardness (why is it, for instance, that Sasha won’t have a drink even though she is sat in a bar?), or otherwise sheer exasperation (of course a friend of Becca (Molly Keogh) knows about her being queer: they were in bed together). Plenty of food for thought in an enlightening and entertaining evening.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Full Disclosure Theatre returns (finally!) with their new writing night XPOSED, featuring eight brand new short plays revealing the naked and entertaining truths about queer life. Whatever your preference, come discover the latest talent from a company passionate about discovering unheard voices within the community and showcasing LGBTQ+ stories.

Flop by Phil Charles
Suffering from impotence, Dave has a visit from the God of Virility.

Faith by Nikki Hill
Getting married was always the plan. Getting married in a church was not.

Blank Page by Alex Britt
Andrew invites Sean over for the first time…but will his secret ruin the hook-up?

Front Seat Passenger by Lydia Higman
Francis is seventeen, queer, and stuck in the car with Mum.

Again and Again and Again by Kate Reid
Sadie and Becca meet up before the worst dinner party of their lives.

Low-functioning Queer by Jamie Hancock
Start. Stop. Rewind. Sasha reviews their latest attempt to date whilst disabled.

Donal by Frances Eva Lea
Des dares to dream of a life that could’ve been.

Full Disclosure present
XPOSED
3 OCT 2021
Start Time: 7pm
Running Time: 120 mins including interval
https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/

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