By Cedar Brown
A gay smutty take on a traditional church service, .CHURCH. is a cheeky queer celebration: fun, sexy and here for a good time.
Six Inches Uncut as MC made this show, drawing the disparate performances together with a warmth and charisma that allowed us to relax into the night. They conducted the show with presence and comfortable control: when they were on the stage you were not worried that anything would get out of hand (which can be a feat in a performance with many moving parts and an unruly crowd).
The acts were for the most part engaging, each performer emerging with obvious talent. Becky Lou was transfixing, straddling a playful line between comic and sexy. Sham was also a standout with their sharp physicality and strong comedic narrative. Lola La Roux was disconcerting and hilarious in their switching between camp Barbie and explicit smut. Charlotte’s poetic voice was a rich delight. Generally, the performances could have been more engaging if they excavated deeper into tropes, ideas and jokes they drew on. Often, we could grasp a piece early on and then the humour and themes weren’t taken much further. However, it was still a pleasure to watch the skill of the performers (with Serenity’s strength particularly notable) and some of the pieces, such as Bettie Bombshell’s offering, delivered fresh surprises until the last moment. In a similar vein, while Ruby Slippers’ creative use of a banana was stunning, the use of prop and costume could have often used more interrogation and consideration.
The stage was set up simply, with the positioning and removal of set pieces and props executed with a casual efficiency by a stage-person wearing a uterus necklace. The four-piece Shania Choir provided a choral backdrop to the service: opening the curtain to their harmonies drew us immediately into a church space, though their power varied over the evening.
Audience participation was handled to facilitate maximum enjoyment and minimal stress: anyone who wanted to ‘confess’ was asked to do so privately in interval. This meant that only those who elected to participate where then called up to the stage. Six Inches Uncut handled this segment with a respectful gentleness that was nestled in the comic joy of the interaction. Their palpable sense of mischief, curiosity and fun imbued all audience interaction with a warm playfulness that encouraged the audience to participate in entertaining and joyful ways.
The audience of the performance I attended was obviously there for a good time, and this was crucial to its success, giving it the atmosphere of a rowdy cabaret bar despite it’s more controlled performance structure. The crowd laughed, cheered, and shouted in conversation with the pieces, obviously very on side with the show. Here was a room of queers who wanted to be part of a communal worshipping that centred their experiences and identities. And this show gave them the perfect avenue for it.
Performance 4, Direction 3.5, Costume and set 3.5, Lighting 3.5, Sound 3.5