And the Rest of Me Floats at Bush Theatre
How does our society marginalise and compartmentalise? Have we become less intolerant, or more so? Is there a paradox in our celebration of diversity and equal rights yet conversely a narrow judgmentalism regarding societal roles and a discouraging of individuality?
Gender is a current issue in the spotlight, and Outbox Theatre’s And the Rest of Me Floats – superbly directed by Ben Buratta – highlights this topic vis-a-vis the experience of being LGBT – transgender in particular – and how it is for gender non-conformists to live in a world that seeks to box people and confine them to categories. The terrific, highly talented cast – Elijah W Harris, Emily Joh Miller, Josh-Susan Enright, Yasmin Zadeh, Barry Fitzgerald, Tamir Amar Pettet, and Michelle Tiwo – present to us their stories with heart and humour. Discussed are barriers to understanding their sexual identity that they encounter, such as tradition and religion – as in the case of Pettet who describes his Bar Mitzvah and instructions on how to be a man, but who clearly transcends his confusion by triumphantly flaunting his female self.
With stunningly poignant expressiveness, the performers underscore their confrontations with being “different” in a culture that promotes individual differences in theory, yet judges and even condemns them in reality. Exploring interactions via intrusive, sometimes bizarre, questions asked of them about their identities, it is revealed that being treated as objects of curiosity, they are further dismissed and alienated from society at large. Describing their evolution and the discovering of their genuine selves, they delineate the obstacles and milestones in the difficult passage to their true personas within an intolerant environment.
In addition to moving testimonials, the work is punctuated with vibrant music and song accompanied by piano, guitars and drums. Teenage Dirtbag sung by Harris and chorus is especially uplifting. A dancelike flow (directed by Coral Messam) is perfectly choreographed as the players move around the stage to electronic sound, with seamless transitions within a minimal set. Designed by Rūta Irbīte, the bare palette shows only lighting and sound sources, with a studio-like appearance, lending more reality to the actors’ stories – a Brechtian touch.
Exploring important issues of our time, And the Rest of Me Floats is innovative, thought-provoking, intriguing, cathartic and significant, while highly entertaining and fun.
Photo: Helen Murray
And the Rest of Me Floats is at Bush Theatre from 20th February until 16th March 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.