In another Performance for the Curious at the Millennium Centre, Milk have presented a work brimming with possibility and waves the flag for transgender lives today. Turning back to Greek myth, the fusion of both these elements might appear somewhat contrived, though the execution brushes away any doubts. Written by L. J. Skilbeck, this towering feat of spoken word is a mesmerising whirl of wit, pain, aguish, and circumstance. It’s verse is cut as if by a diamond, with some snazzy wordplay and multi layered puns. Some of these heartfelt truths about being transgender remained as eye-opening encounters.
The four main performers have a great shared energy, bleeding into the small, performance area with exposing, stacked lamps, the only major site within the set. Bull masks are occasionally used as metaphor about manliness and its trappings. You can see just how much these performers have been through with telling tears and a real sense of ‘the method’ within the impact of every word. It’s good that humour is a welcome factor in both the text and the show itself (I saw the performance on Transgender Remembrance Day). The jokes and puns make a great addition to the show relaxing us into a false state of security as the sobering themes come hurtling back at us towards the end.
Some songs work better than others, each melding the mythical in to the musical. Gods and goddess appear in and out of the show, each with a theme to realise within episodes within the show. The most compelling moments came when performers took the mic for telling, intimate one to ones with the audience, as the dense (yet also accessible) spoken word play went on. A hilarious highlight was a cameo from Theseus, here essentially a Chad (an arrogant meathead). He oozes toxic masculinity, confronting these Minotaurs with expected inevitability (he kills the mythical beast in the story). Only here these Minotaurs stand up and confront him with rousing reproach.
Each of these characters is faced with their own psychological labyrinths. More work like this is essential, as a better understanding of what some people in our society have to face. The courage and resilience of the artists is beyond inspiring. Looking at the extensive performance schedule Bullish has been on the last few month, I would strongly urge those in Cardiff and Poole to check out the show, in what is the last leg of its tour.
Bullish runs at the Wales Millennium Centre till 24th November and The Lighthouse, Poole from 29th November till 1st December 2018.