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BoyBi | Turbine Theatre

I had the privilege of immersing myself in a weekend of queer performances (including Bloody Elle and Boy Out the City), two shows that explore themes of love, navigating the struggles of being queer, and self-discovery, all set in the heart of the West End. It was only fitting that I concluded my stagey queer trilogy with BoyBi.

Written and performed by Evan Reynolds, and directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair and Yuxuan Liu, this solo musical embarks on a poignant journey with George, a 19-year-old bi-boy, as he grapples with his identity and seeks self-acceptance. BoyBi takes us through the tumultuous waves of George's life, from the complexities of coming out to exploring masculinity, friendship, first kisses, and, ultimately, embracing his true self.

What immediately set BoyBi apart was its intimate setting. Unlike its counterparts, which found their stage in the heart of the bustling city, this production unfolded in a smaller, more intimate space, adding a sense of closeness and connection to the experience. The occasional rumbling of passing trains above the Turbine Theatre served as a poignant reminder that the struggles, hopes and dreams portrayed were a reflection of the real world we live in.

Although the show marketed itself as a musical, the songs often felt somewhat disconnected from the play itself, making it seem more like a play with a sprinkling of songs. Musically, the range was impressive, spanning catchy pop tunes to soulful rock ballads and R&B, with lyrics that were undeniably raw and heartfelt. While Reynolds delivered most of the songs with sincerity, pitch issues occasionally crept in, revealing his strengths as a rapper rather than a crooner. However, what Reynolds lacked in the vocal department, he more than compensated for with his acting abilities.

His compelling and emotionally resonant portrayal added a layer of depth to the character that transcended any vocal shortcomings, drawing the audience deeper into the narrative. Reynolds' ability to convey a range of emotions, from vulnerability to raw authenticity, allowed him to connect with the audience on a profound level, creating a memorable and engaging performance.

BoyBi had its share of highs and lows, with some jokes landing brilliantly while others missed the mark. The writing occasionally stumbled, and pacing issues were noticeable. Nevertheless, what shone through was Reynolds' authenticity, soul, and heart, infusing the production with a bittersweet and heartfelt charm that lingered in the hearts of the audience that resonated long after.

As the audience entered the theatre, we were granted a glimpse into Reynolds' own childhood and growth through photographs on the wall alongside the actual clothing, presumably his own. John Gordon's Art Direction in BoyBi displayed a clever and symbolic use of a backdrop adorned with hangers and an array of clothing pieces. This artistic choice beautifully echoed George's personal struggle with identity, emphasising his belief that "clothes are an extension of voice."

However, I couldn't help but wish for a bit more creativity in utilising the set to establish different spaces and times, which would have heightened the overall storytelling and aesthetic value of this production. Complementing this visual feast, Conor Fleming's sound and lighting design enriched George's world with depth, colours, and a hint of whimsy, thereby elevating the overall theatrical experience.

In a rapidly evolving theatre landscape, where there is a growing spotlight on new British writing and musicals, BoyBi emerges as an essential and urgent narrative. This production not only reflects the evolving dynamics of the contemporary stage but also contributes significantly to the diversification of stories told within the realm of British theatre. BoyBi might still be rough around the edges, but, as the saying goes, "no pressure, no diamonds."

Given additional time and resources, it wouldn't be surprising to see this show sparkle and eventually grace the stages of the West End. Nevertheless, BoyBi takes a courageous step by addressing the often-neglected topic of bisexuality within the LGBTQ+ canon. As an audience member and ally, it's truly heart-warming and uplifting to see a new generation of artists taking centre stage, particularly when they pour their vulnerability, heart and soul into their creative endeavours.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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