The latest queer extravaganza from Bedlam Chorus is as hilarious as it is heart-warming
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
Bedlam Chorus is a theatre company which tells un(der)told stories in spectacular ways, and their latest show butterfly is no exception. They have found the stories that the world hasn’t heard before – but can’t live without – and are telling them for you, from 26-28 February 2020 at London’s VAULT Festival.
Butterfly is a show all about forgotten stories from queer past. Ranging from 1732, where we meet a woman who is stitching a beard from her pubic hair to marry the woman she loves; 1899 where a trans teen evades their own search party to live an authentic life; to 1942, where we meet a World War II Navy signalman who slept with 30% of his crew and avoided being discharged because his drag act was so iconic.
Queer history so often presents the same stories time and time again, but butterfly has covered as much as possible in terms of time periods, contexts, moods, tempo and form. Bedlam Chorus have really pulled out all the stops to find an exciting selection of stories that show us that queer stories aren’t limited – and they don’t always follow the same storyline.
They spent months in the archives compiling research that enabled them to produce this, a big queer culmination that manages to be both funny and deeply moving.
A band of real-life queer misfits from across time gather to tell you their extraordinary stories that you’ve never heard before. They’re creating vibrations which they hope will reverberate up through the thick, muddy layers of time, into the right-here-right-now.
One of the best performances comes from a character called Mary, played by Anna Fenton-Garvey, who marries 14 women over 25 years – 50 years before marriage equality. She certainly gets some of the best one-liners in the show (and it’s a story I think we can all draw on for some serious womanising wisdom).
We connect to these people and these storylines, no matter the era or the circumstance, because we all know how it feels to be queer.
Butterfly takes you on a whirlwind joyride of LGBTQI history in the tunnels underneath Waterloo station, telling true extraordinary stories of queer misfits that will have you walking back into the right here and now with a big smile on your face and a deeper connection to our shared history.
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