Summer In London

Theatre, Comedy
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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This all-trans-cast romcom is intentionally frothy fun, and all the better for it

If you see a trans person on stage (or in a film, for that matter) then ten to one it’s as part of a coming out story. There will probably be tears. They might well die. Oh, and they’ll almost certainly be played by a cis person who’ll get applauded for their ‘brave’ performance.

The diverse, all-trans cast and breezy, sunny storyline of ‘Summer in London’ makes it a welcome exception to the rule. Rikki Beadle-Blair’s play is an unashamed romcom, where four lads take it in turns to woo a pretty girl. But it’s also a bit more complex, shifting, and, well, queer than that sounds.

Summer (Victoria Gigante) is ready with some unsettling questions about whether her dates are really as (cock)sure in their identities as they seem. Her friend Justine (Emma Frankland) isn’t comfortable with the ladylike, super feminine aesthetic trans women are expected to aim for. And as a summer heatwave wears on, it turns out that love doesn’t have to mean boy meets girl.

Beadle-Blair’s dialogue is as fluid as his characters’ evolving identities, taking in all the complexities of gender, ethnicity and sexuality while still making room for regular outbreaks of hilarity. There’s a self-aware lyricism to his script that mixes mindless silliness with powerful monologues that crack open these peoples’ skulls and let you peer right in.

The cast’s performances aren’t always polished, but they feel truthful, especially Frankland’s furious feminist rants - even if she has to singlehandedly provide most of the play’s political heft. And somehow, their energy sweeps you up into 'Summer in London’s peppy, rainbow-coloured dance. Along the way, there’s adventure, a giant glittery swan boat, and lots of heart-swelling soppiness. There’s also a faintly ropey soundtrack (also by Beadle-Blair) and plenty of equally suspect narrative twists. Somehow, it doesn’t matter: this summer, London is getting exactly the queer story it needs.

By: Alice Saville

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