Tag Archives: HASBIAN



Omnibus Theatre

HASBIAN at the Omnibus Theatre


“This is an impressive play with real heart”

Has-bian. Slang for someone who ‘was’ a lesbian. But what does that really mean? Society’s understanding of sexual (and gender) identity has become more fluid in recent years. The binary of gay or straight is being rejected by many in favour of more nuanced definitions that attempt to capture the breadth of human experience. It is these issues that Beth Watson (writer/performer) and P Burton-Morgan (director) explores in their solo performance named after the aforementioned insult in the amusing format of reading from their teenage diary.

The diary – blue, with an ‘emo’ tear drop on the front cover – is typically adolescent. The drama that Beth and their gang of misfits – all reimagined as stars from 90s romcoms – drink straight vodka at parties, worry about their GCSEs, and have the utmost faith that their teenage relationships will end in marriage. At the same time, the pages reveal an almost liberating acceptance of queerness. Beth – at the age of 14 – talks openly about lesbian sex, enjoying a fling with best friend Lindsay (Lohan). The friends compliment each other by saying they look ‘dykey’ and attending the Brighton pride parade is an annual tradition.

Sadly, over the diary’s two-year span, this young, unashamed joy is slowly eroded as the reality of homophobia and the effects of policies such as Section 28 take hold. The group pretends to be ‘normal’ – aka straight – at sleepovers and Beth wills themself to fancy the dreamy boy-next-door Ashton (Kutcher). In one particularly poignant moment, the young Beth describes life as looking out of two windows – one dirty (queer) and one clean (straight) – and never quite connecting to either. Beth also touches on the negative influence of their childhood movies like Cruel Intentions which present sex and relationships as transactional and someone’s worth tied to their ‘fuckability’.

The space is simply dressed with two benches on which Beth sits and lies. The narrative is aided by four red shoes – all Beth’s own – that are placed around the stage. First, red jelly shoes – representative of Beth pre-puberty. Next, red Reebok Classics – indicative of Beth’s desire to fit in with their peers. Thirdly, red Doc Marten boots with bedazzled toes – showing Beth’s pride. And, finally, red stiletto heels – symbolic of the traditional femininity to which Beth feels the pressure to conform.

At the back of the stage are two surfaces shaped like binder notebooks on which images and quotes from Beth’s diary are projected (Edalia Day). This is highly effective and provides significant visual interest throughout the performance. The text is stylised – depending on the tone and nature of what Beth has written – and the photo editing is terrific.

The show does a great job at integrating accessibility into its performance. Captions are available throughout, audio description by Quiplash UK is used to describe the action on stage, and the various people that Beth discusses all have a sound bite from a famous movie to indicate their arrival on screen. At times, the latter does upset the storytelling flow, but it is a small price to pay for the worthwhile endeavour.

Hasbian is a very vulnerable show. Reading out one’s teenage diary would be most people’s worst nightmare and it is commendable that Beth is so open about the complicated – and rather embarrassing – feelings inside. This is an impressive play with real heart – it is definitely worth a watch.

HASBIAN at the Omnibus Theatre

Reviewed on 26th June 2024

by Flora Doble

Photography © Queer Diary






Previously reviewed at this venue:

COMPOSITOR E | ★★★ | September 2023



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page