Tuesday, May 28

FutureQueer – King’s Head Theatre

Alexis Gregory’s one-man show did exactly what it said on the tin: it facilitated a co-imagining of future in which queerness is ubiquitous.

Gregory’s ironic repetition of right-wing frenzied slogans (‘it’s woke gone mad!’) to open the show provided us with an effective comic introduction. The rest of the piece featured an enjoyable mix of contemporary journalistic articles and queer scholarship, notably the literature of Esteban Muñoz, as well as the presentation of imagined characters from the late 21st Century. For example, Gregory interpreted the role of ‘Futura’, an A.I. drag queen, who invited us into the possibilities of ‘alternative intelligence’, all the while serving us ‘deepfake realness’ and (garnering audience laughter along the way!). We journeyed through the ‘speculative fabulations’ of the queer body as of 2071, using a nameless voice to explore how technological systems might serve/support a queer individual or queer families in the future. Altogether, the cabaret space in the new King’s Head Theatre venue (adorned with pipes, electrical units and wires) was a fitting setting for the technological and transhumanist overtones of the piece.

Most prominently, the marriage between fiction and non-fiction came to a head when an extended monologue – which conjured up a queer party on Hampstead Heath for us – was fused with an anecdote from an interview presented earlier on by Gregory. I found the push and pull between the informative versus the imaginative to be a clever bending of theatrical form which served the show’s content well, reminding us that we still remain rooted in a here-and-now that is often dangerous for queer folk.

Although billed as a ‘DIY queer lecture’, Gregory’s use of technology unfortunately (and perhaps ironically, too) hampered his performance in FutureQueer. The heavy reliance on the iPad propped on a music stand, as well as the tab-searching on his Mac, interrupted the rhythm of the piece. These long pauses occurred on multiple occasions, demanding the audience’s patience one too many times. There was no attempt to recognise this by Gregory, which only furthered the awkward air of the auditorium and made me feel like I was watching a rehearsal rather than a polished piece of theatre.

Furthermore, attempts at theatrical symbolism proved to be inconsistent. At one point, Gregory rips off sticky notes with the names of persecuted or deceased queer people whilst reading their names, in a poignant act of remembrance. However, these names then littered the floor for the rest of the performance, leading Gregory to accidentally step on them and remove them from his shoe on several occasions. I felt that this depleted the initial moment of its power, as it was replaced by the uncomfortable untangling of these symbols.

FutureQueer is a 60-minute celebration of queer joy and utopia possibilities, whilst also recognising the very real and visceral dangers that threaten this. However, the Donna Summer song ‘I Feel Love’, played at the start and end of the piece as its structural bookends, emphasises the importance of hope as we leave the auditorium.

FutureQueer is playing at the King’s Head Theatre until 2nd March, details for booking can be found here: www.kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/futurequeer

Reviewer: Eleanor Hall

Reviewed: 4th February 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.