From its humble beginnings above The King's Arms in Salford, ‘Qweer Shorts’ has grown from smaller one-off performances to a five night run at the prestigious Hope Mill Theatre. Presenting a collection of six bold LGBTQ+ stories, there really is something here for everyone. To give you a flavour, these were my top three…
The evening started off with a bang with ‘Pride of Place’ written by Jack Horsefield and Martin Johnson. We meet Melvin (John Joyce-O’Keeffe), a real LGBTQ+ ally wanting to spread the message about pride. It is the character of Jeff (Patrick Jeffries) who really makes this interesting. As the only gay man in the small organisation, he sees it all very differently. Is a company displaying a pride flag on their logo needed or is it just virtue signalling? This clever piece asks this very question to its audience, making us evaluate our own opinions. Politics and theatre often don’t work in parallel, it can often feel patronising, preachy and unnecessary. Qweerdog have got the balance absolutely right in this thought-provoking short play, that still has me questioning my own opinion the morning after the performance.
Perhaps the most poignant and crowd-pleasing performance of the evening was in the one-person play ‘Parental Guidance’, written and performed by the fantastic Jude Leath. This standout short play tackles gender sensitively from the perspective of a non-binary parent. Usually collecting their children from the school gates as dad, this parent finally has the courage to collect them as mum. Tackling prejudice, self-doubt, love and equality, this magnificent play really touched the hearts of the audience with its almost deafening applause and hollering! For those who find the concept of non-binary difficult to understand, this piece articulates better than ANY online argument why we should be more accepting of all colours in the pride flag.
The showcase closed on a high with ‘Natter’. Joe Henry-Evans and John Thacker are comically dressed in ‘older lady drag’ as the hilarious Linda & Helen. Henry-Evan’s script is a real lesson in British comedy that could easily have been penned by the late Caroline Aherne! The audience are on the edge of their seats in constant laughter as the two ladies have hysterically relatable conversations in front of the TV. Talk soon turns to sexuality, with characters unsure how to bring up (and discuss) thoughts about the sexuality of one of their sons. I would love to see this developed into something longer, it was truly something special.
Qweerdog Theatre Company have triumphed with their run at Hope Mill Theatre. As an absolute convert to their incredible work, I cannot wait to see what is developed for future showcases. Coinciding with Manchester Pride, you can catch ‘Qweer Shorts’ at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 26th August 2023.
Note: My ticket was gifted. Irrespective of whether a show is gifted or bought, I always ensure that my reviews are fair and based on my honest opinion alone.