‘Outings’ was devised by Matthew Baldwin and Thomas Hescott and directed by David Grindley.
Theatre reporter Denholm Spurr saw ‘Outings’ at St James Theatre on 16th October, 2014 and shares his thoughts with us:
Outings, which transferred for two days to London’s St James Theatre after a successful run in Edinburgh, stages the real-life coming out stories of the LGBT community. Featuring four stand-up comics and a fifth special guest comedy star, scripts in hand and sat on stools along the shallow studio stage, the format is much like a comedy sketch-show like ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway’?
We open with possibly the biggest, bravest (and to the gay community very welcome) verbatim outing, a recording of Tom Daley’s YouTube video released last year. We are immediately thrust into the present where the next major challenge is moving to a time when coming out is no longer a thing; boy, girl, whatever the conversation becomes: “Mum, I think I’m in love.”…. “that’s nice, Dear”.
What ‘Outings’ does successfully is take us through the history of LGBT acceptance, from the Wolfenden report right through to Rainbow laces for footballers. The comics recount the coming out tales with delicacy and honesty, particularly Zoe Lyons who’s story by a lonely wife gathering dust in her husbands “cupboard” was perhaps the most touching moment in the play.
It’s a shame this play follows in the footsteps of other plays that present issues of the gay community and also lacks a great deal of the B in LGBT; perhaps because coming out as Bisexual is still not a socially recognised or accepted thing but that very struggle was unfortunately unexplored. Otherwise Outings presents a very well balanced cross section of individuals and demographics.
I also question the casting of stand-up comics rather than actors, which to me betrayed a bums-on-seats commercialism; borne out of the struggle for audience numbers in Edinburgh perhaps. The performers made excellent work of the lighter moments, especially a hilarious re-enactment of an gay man disappointed by his mother’s unsurprised reaction to his big announcement, but on the whole this was not a funny script and casting “actors” may have given the serious tones more variety.
Needless to say this is an thoroughly entertaining evening; a sharing of an important collection of stories from a minority group which has, in this country at least, come a long way along the road to acceptance in the last 50 years.
More about Denholm @DenholmSpurr.