By Manavi Mehrotra
The Performances for the Curious, now in second season, celebrates contemporary theatre and fascinating music, comedy, and cabaret performances. This is the second production by Milk Presents, after their debut at the London ‘come as you are’ festival with Joan, a critically acclaimed smashing hit. The play: Bullish is currently on tour and in Cardiff till the 24th of November.
Bullish digs into the Greek story of Theseus and the Minotaur, Asterion. The traditional story follows the Greek hero Theseus who is trapped in a labyrinth and is eventually killed by the minotaur. However, Bullish takes a fascinating twist on this classic story, shining a light on Asterion instead.
The play explores the minds and lives of many in the transgender community, discussing the trials and tribulations they face in order to be comfortable in their own skins. Four members of the cast play Asterion and their journeys’ through the maze acts as a reflection of their discovery of their gender identity versus the socially accepted gender ‘norms’. The half human and half bull Minotaur acts as a reflective image, highlighting how transitioning transgender individual can often feel‘stuck in the middle’.
With the help of musical theatre, the cast take the audience through their lives, using the labyrinth as a symbol of society – a horrifying maze of twists and turns that they need to find and escape. The role of Theseus is assumed by a stoic, assertive ‘man’ who represents the toxic masculinity and harsh societal gender norms which, like the end of the labyrinth, seems impossible to achieve by Asterion.
The close, intimate environment of the Weston Studio coupled with the vulnerable and pure performance by Milk Presents allowed the audience to become completely be entranced by the personal stories of the cast. The transparent performances of the actors and the honesty in their script is what made the play and the entire experience so enjoyable – sometimes I was holding back both tears and at others loud, obnoxious laughs. Considering where the world is right now I think that this play is incredibly important and relevant. It is imperative that the idea behind this story reaches out to larger audiences and that there is a deeper conversation about queerness and gender identity, especially with the younger audience.
So, should you see this play? The-se-YES (I apologize for the pun but honestly, this play opened up an entirely new perspective into the lives of people in this community and I highly suggest that you watch it.)
Also, it is currently transgender awareness week, which makes it a very appropriate time to watch this play and enjoy the message that it transmits the audience.