Jayce (Gerard Headley) is a music maker with, or so Chris (Kieran Mason) would have the audience believe, a platform. If Jayce were to ‘come out’ (inverted commas mine) it would, Chris thinks, be beneficial for others who have done the same. For Jayce, however, too much is at stake: rightly or wrongly, he believes his career would be wrecked if he were to be labelled as gay. More pertinently, as he puts it, “not everyone needs to be assigned a letter from the alphabet”, a reference, perhaps, to the ever-burgeoning acronyms to describe non-straight people. (The show doesn’t go into further detail on this point, suffice to say one of the longer ones is LGBTQQIP2SAA, standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit (2S), androgynous and asexual.)
I get where Jayce is coming from, at least on the latter point: is it really necessary to be labelled and categorised as one thing or the other? Are we not in more liberal and enlightened times, where people can simply, to quote the musical Kinky Boots, “Just be who you want to be / Never let them tell you who ought to be / Just be, with dignity / Celebrate yourself triumphantly”? That said, the stakes remain high (the uproar over same-sex dancing couples on BBC Television’s Strictly Come Dancing being a case in point), and there is much to think about here.
The production is brief, running at just under twenty minutes, and the open-ended conclusion leaves scope for expansion into a longer play, particularly as the storyline suggests that, given the hordes of paparazzi and/or obsessive fans outside, it may not even be possible for Jayce to leave the property for some time. The script is naturalistic and conversational, and both actors are more than sufficiently convincing. The dialogue remains civil, despite some very personal topics under discussion – and why not? This isn’t, after all, a soap opera.
The play could, set as it is in the present day, be seen as something of a damning indictment on today’s society. But it seems to be somewhat hopeful, too – some progress has been made since the timeline of Channel 4’s It’s A Sin, and given the number of singers, entertainers and performers who identify as LGBT+, Jayce’s fears about career termination seem rather inflated. Food for thought in this relatable and reflective production.
Review by Chris Omaweng
The decision to come out or not to come out can still have consequences, especially in regards to long term mental health. This short and snappy play by playwright Leon Fleming (Sid, Kicked in the Shitter,) delves into the issue of revealing who you are when you’re in the public eye, and what that can mean for the community at large as well as for the individual making that leap into the unknown.
In a co-production by TheMill.TV, Bradford Fringe, Heifer Productions, and supported by Equity Partnership, this short play is being broadcast for the first time as a key event in Bradford’s official LGBTQ+ History Month 2021 programme.
by Leon Fleming
Date: 26 February 2021
Time: 7PM GMT
Running time: Approx. 20mins
Produced by Laura Brooks for Bradford Fringe
Directed by Katie Turner-Halliday
Cast: Kieran Mason and Gerard Headley