The Butch Monologues
Reviewed – 8th November 2017
“a multitude of truthful, vulnerable, funny and sexy stories”
There is a great hunger for this piece. Back in 2012, writer Laura Bridgeman approached director Julie McNamara and private members’ club The Drakes, about staging monologues from butches, masculine women and gender rebels living all across the world. The result is a multitude of truthful, vulnerable, funny and sexy stories exploring everything from butch-fem communities in the eighties to binding breasts to asking for a penis in your Christmas stocking. There are eleven readers (The Drakes) in total, but each night a handful of them take to the stage and read over fifty monologues which aren’t memorised. Some readers perform their own stories while some read those of others, but that in no way hinders its authenticity.
The Butch Monologues has a very direct approach. The very frank presentation of ‘I’ve had chest surgery. It’s a bit like Weight Watchers but there is a chance my nipples could go black and fall off’ brings a blend of humour and curiosity to a still-taboo subject. Other equally captivating stories seem more like vulnerable outpourings. Another tells an innately honest story about one contributor’s fear of rejection and whether they can please their partner. All the while the readers are bridging the gap of assumption and reality.
Although there’s little animated energy, the readers often respond to one another’s stories by either nodding, shaking their heads or even laughing. This gives a sense of the project being a hugely cathartic journey for them and presents a real spirit of masculine solidarity. The feeling of a collective is further emphasised when at various points in the show the readers stand in a row, taking turns to list butch words, this almost feels like the performers are reclaiming and repositioning words that may have previously been seen as derogatory. The piece as a whole celebrates butch identity and culture brilliantly.
Reviewed by Chloe Cordell
Photography by Christa Holka
THE BUTCH MONOLOGUES
is at Gerry’s Studio until 10th November 2017 and at the Soho Theatre 21st to 25th November