Saturday, January 28

Not F**kin’ Sorry – Soho Theatre

Presented by Not Your Circus Dog Collective and Access All Areas, the frank and honest cabaret ‘Not F**kin’ Sorry’ dives headfirst and unapologetically into the topic of disability discrimination in a highly provocative, hilarious, and seductive way.

Not Your Circus Dog is a collective of learning disabled and neurodivergent performers who all, in their own right take command of the performance space to share their own story and those of others, and with serious content warnings, knock down all barriers on the sexuality, lifestyle, and fantasy of disabled people.

The 60 minutes performance is impactful from start to finish. It is a curated piece that balances between the points of audience laughter and dancing, and points where they are stunned into silence and grim sadness. It’s a self-described ‘shameless sexy punk crip cabaret’ and is utterly fearless in its presentation of the truth, using intimate verbatim accounts, ferociously sexual and highly sweaty dance routines, luscious lip synchs, and (optional) audience participation to illustrate that disabled people are everywhere, they are here to stay and most important, they will not apologise for existing.

All four performers deserve their own recognition. First, there is overtly sexual Adam Smith, who is an absolute superstar and joy to watch. His contagious smile and laughter win over the audience almost immediately, and even as he is dancing a candid burlesque inspired striptease routine, announcing “I love my body, and I’m not going to change it for anybody!” it is clear that this is a confident, brave, and mesmerising performer that understands how to use personality and body to ensure the audience eats from the palm of his hand.

More controlled, but equally talented Stephanie Newman demonstrates her comedic timing and humour in her satirical skit inspired by the popular TV gameshow, Countdown. The short piece involves audience participation and is incredibly funny, but quickly turns into some serious messaging around hate and mate crime, detailing descriptions of real victims’ experiences.

DJ Hassan performs choreographed solo dance to a modern soundtrack. An incredibly athletic and energetic performer, DJ throws himself into the movement (directed by Movement Director, Janine Fletcher) to narrate and illustrate his vibrant and optimistic outlook on life. When the piece takes a darker turn, addressing the heart-breaking reality of physical abuse within the Disabled community, DJ conveys clear strength in both body and character.

Last, but by no means least, there is the truly versatile performer Emma/Xandri Selwyn, who in one moment is reading out loud, a list of disabled people who have been beaten, murdered or who have died during the pandemic, reminding the audience of the serious social injustices, violence and inequality faced every day by the disabled community, and in the next moment is strung up by her wrists, wearing only a bra and knickers, confessing her deepest sexual fantasies. There are not many performers that would be so brave as to take on such a risky set of scenes, but Emma does this with incredible professionalism, confidence, and strength. A true professional.

This production is highly recommended, it is entertaining and will make you laugh and want to get up and dance, however, it also carries a serious message too, as the four remind, they “are sick of being your circus dogs”.  They are in fact so much more than that, they are bold and truly brave performers who perfectly deliver the message that learning disabled and neurodivergent performers, with highly creative direction from Liselle Terret (Artistic Director) and Dramaturg, Lou Cope, are a true force to be reckoned with.

‘Not F**kin’ Sorry’ continues at the Soho Theatre until Saturday, 3rd September, and then moves to tour to other theatrical venues around the UK.  Tickets are available from https://sohotheatre.com  

Reviewer: Alan Stuart Malin

Reviewed: 31st August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★

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