Boy Stroke Girl at The Etcetera Theatre – Review

Boy Stroke GirlCan you fall in love with someone if you don’t know their gender?” is the question the marketing for Boy Stroke Girl poses. The play is returning to the Etcetera Theatre in Camden for a second run, this time from 28th Feb – 12th March 2017. I went along to their Press Night on the 20th February looking forward to being challenged by a piece of new writing.

The marketing for the production is very promising, it questions stereotypes and labelling and the efficacy of using these methods to define ourselves and others. All subjects that interest me (any my flatmate, whom I took along with me!) However, for me, the actual production doesn’t live up to the hype and PR.
The piece is designed well for the small space, the set and space is utilised well considering what is available. However, the main fault of the production is the writing.

When going to a show I always ask myself who is the audience for this piece, namely, am I their correct demographic, and if not, then I, of course, make assumptions and allow for misunderstanding. However, by the end of this production I still couldn’t see who it was aimed at and after over an hour of debating with my flatmate, we still couldn’t figure out what the point of the production was – other than to spark debate! Which of course may have been the point and we both missed said point!

The Writer/Director Ian Dixon Potter has cast 4 actors, 2 male and 2 female into a play that needs 6 characters. The accents taken on by the actors were somewhat confused, and I had no idea where the majority of these characters were from other than a generic foreign accent for Blue. Although it was clear that Thomasin Lockwood and Duncan Mason were playing multiple roles, none of the characters really stood out for me. The main protagonist Peter, played by Gianbruno Spena is the strongest of the cast, he does add an air of naturalism to the piece, however, his script seems somewhat lacking and causes problems for me to relate to him.

Blue, the subject of the piece, is performed by llaria Ciardelli. However, I had huge problems with the characterisation, I did not empathise with this character at all. I found Blue to be annoying, self-obsessed, too wrapped up in their internal dialogue to care about who they were hurting in their experiment to remain gender neutral.

In retrospect, the interesting question is about the psychology behind Blue; why this person had decided to present as gender neutral. I was more interested in why this person felt they had the right to hide their gender at all costs, including those that loved them and found them sexually attractive.

The piece wasn’t all bad, there are some clever one-liners in there and a few of the scenes were fun to watch. However, the overriding feeling in this piece is wanting to hit the character of Blue with a wet fish and tell them to wise-up and stop being so self-absorbed. I would be interested to hear others opinions on the script and performance.

3 stars

Review by Faye Stockley

Peter is about to find out when he falls for the sexually ambiguous ‘Blue’. 
Their relationship poses a challenge to Peter’s identity, forcing him to face some difficult questions: To what extent are we all encouraged to conform to narrow culturally defined stereotypes, to label and to pigeon-hole ourselves?

Are these labels a form of straight-jacket, by adapting to them do we compromise our true nature and can we defy the ultimate label of gender? Does this pressure to conform inevitably give rise to derision and hatred towards those who by choice or inclination, stand outside society’s norms?

Casting caution to the wind, Peter’s passion for Blue provokes prejudice and hostility from friends and family in
a tale of sexual liberation and shattered taboos.

Written & Directed by: Ian Dixon Potter
Performed by: Ilaria Ciardelli, Thomasin Lockwood,
Gianbruno Spena & Duncan Mason
ETCETERA THEATRE | 265 Camden High St., London NW1 7BU
Preview: 20th Feb 2017
28th Feb – 12th March 2017