Mary Woodward Review

Queer Folks’ Tales, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Review

***** (5 stars)

Quite apart from the fact that this was a brilliant evening of storytelling, my overwhelming feeling was one of amazement and gratitude that the event was taken for granted, as something that simply was available if you wanted to go – and the packed Netherbow Theatre was a clear indication that plenty of people wanted to be there.  

Wind back the clock some forty years and the concept of such a public event was inconceivable.  Yes, the queer community would get together to share stories, recount experience, and offer the love and support necessary to enable one to survive in a hostile, closeted world – but the idea of being able to do this publicly, in a theatre, at an event anyone could attend, and without any opposition or persecution, was inconceivable.  


Maybe we need a bigger venue?  The desire to attend is there, for sure: but a bigger venue would mean the loss of the intimacy of being crammed together in our winter gear and conntributin to the buzz of the audience before, during, and after the show.

Turan Ali, Lake Montgomery, Sam Lake and Gray Crosbie all gave sparkling and assured performances in their own unique ways.  Each had two major tales to contribute, and into the gaps between tales crept tiny mini-stories each in their own way as memorable as the longer ones.

Turan, radio producer by day, and the performer most blessed in years, welcomed us, explained the outline of the evening, and invited us to participate in the evening by writing our own min-sagas in the interval and popping them in ‘the Dorothy basket’, for use in the second half.  [how many people now know about Dorothy and her friends, I wonder?  All the old coded language is being lost – for a really good reason, though…]

And off we went on a magical mystery tour through the whole range of queer experience.  Turan contributed two stories from his own experience, the first illustrating only too well the challenges facing anyone [even now] who comes out of the closet and tries to live loud and proud.  The second would make a brilliant movie – the story of how seven old queens on a cruise [on a yacht!] turned into raging lions when faced with a dire emergency.

Lake Mongomery is a singer/songwriter who has somehow survived being an a-religious lesbian born in Paris, Texas, surrounded by red-neck evangelical ‘christians’.  Her songs were deeply moving reflections on incidents in her life; very expressive, very witty, very revealing, and very powerfully performed.

Sam Lake is a comedian, and it showed in his recounting two incidents from his life – who would have thought that going to the gym for a [mild] workout, or having a relaxing, post-Fringe holiday with his wife and two mates would prove such resounding triumphs in the ‘stand up to and get the better of “Men”’ challenge?

Gray Crosbie is a performance poet and here they ventured into story-telling for the first time – you wouldn’t have known this was their first time.  And they had us in stitches [even somewhat sheltered little me] recounting a near-traumatic experience which has made them determined never again to wear shoes that can’t just be slipped on or off in an emergency.  They then reduced us nearly to tears with a part-story, part poem account of one of the little-known and devastating consequences of starting hormone therapy – so moving, so brilliant, so memorable and so unexpected.

And we, the audience, were the fifth performer: during the interval a sizeable number of small pieces of paper found their way into Dorothy’s basket, and our performers read us a fair number of them.  Their subjects were many and varied and, like the main stories of the evening, ran the whole gamut of emotions.  What a houseful of talent was in the Netherbow Theatre last night!

If you weren’t there, you should have been!  It was a brilliant evening for so many reasons, and I can’t wait for the next one on April 13th.  Get your tickets now, and come and celebrate the fantastic variety of experience reflected in Queer Folks’ Tales.

Queer Folks’ Tales, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh, Run ended, tickets for the next event on April 13th are available from the Storytelling Centre.


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