Bullish at Camden People’s Theatre
Bullish is the new gender-bending play from Milk Presents that puts a spotlight on a group of individuals as they navigate the labyrinth of their gender identity through the mythical tale of Theseus and the Minotaur.
Headlining the Come As You Are Festival – a three-week programme of shows hoping to confront the question of gender fluidity and all the world’s issues regarding female, male, between and beyond – Bullish charges ahead with its talented ensemble of gender-queer, trans and non-binary performers who help to bring a beguiling honesty to an otherwise confusing production.
The Minotaur is a somewhat compelling comparison to gender norms. Half-man, half-bull and feared for its differences, left to navigate its complex and cavernous labyrinth alone, it has great potential for storytelling; yet within the hour-long running time the concept somehow ends up feeling more shoehorned in and gimmicky than anything else.
The cast of mostly four (for the first half an hour) bat a monologue to and fro of disparaging thoughts of what society asks of them, tossing and turning between metaphors and seemingly real experiences, before falling back to the mythical backdrop of the Minotaur.
There are clever moments to be sure, and a real sense of perspective in certain scenes, but it is within the confusing medley of the Minotaur that what might have been more poignant moments are lost, not to mention the humour, which bounces around and too often falls flat.
The strongest part of the show comes with the arrival of Theseus, who picks things up once more with a sweep of perceived masculinity that confronts our cast. A powerful scene follows in which Theseus attacks the group’s resolve on their masculine transitions and it makes for compelling viewing, but before long loses sight to a metaphor-laden story of Icarus and his waxen wings.
Those with little knowledge of Ancient Greek mythology might find incentive to turn to its pages to truly appreciate some of the heavier segments of the script, but for those who experience gender in a different way, there may be more here than meets the eye.
Photo: Ben Miller Cole
Bullish is at Camden People’s Theatre from 12th until 30th September 2017. For further information or to book visit here.