Can you fall in love with someone without knowing their gender? This question forms the central idea of Boy Stroke Girl, following Peter’s developing relationship with the ambiguous Blue and reactions from both of their friends and families; a rich examination of the most fundamental ways in which people define themselves and others.
Every moment when it looks like action or conversation might veer into the obvious or melodrama, it steers instead into a new perspective or comic insight, all the while feeling entirely natural and real. After the first scene takes a little while to get going, from the entry of Peter’s friends the show warms and speeds up quickly. Each character is fully rounded and every interaction contains subtle and brilliant observations – after Blue declines to describe their occupation as they don’t think it should be a defining characteristic, Peter readily responds “I’ll tell you what I do – it’s not what I want to be doing, so it doesn’t define me.” The scene in which Peter bring Blue for tea at the Yorkshire family home is hilarious (every note ringing true for our own Northern roots), and there’s eloquent discussion on regional and generational differences in identity. Thomasin Lockwood’s American accent as Blue’s artistic friend slightly distracts, but pales to her excellent comic timing amid strong performances from all the cast, with lots of charm and complexity.
There is a sad risk that a fringe show about gender will only ever preach to the converted, but what a wonderful sermon – it will offer much to people who are familiar with the conversation of labels or have never entertained it. A thought-provoking piece that’s very, very funny to boot, I left confident I will be first in line for Golden Age Theatre and writer Ian Dixon Potter’s next venture.
Boy Stroke Girl at Camden Etcetera Theatre
28th Feb – 12th March 2017
7:30pm (Sundays 6.30pm) £12.00/£10.00 concs. Tickets here.
Written & Directed by Ian Dixon Potter. Performed by Ilaria Ciardelli, Thomasin Lockwood, Gianbruno Spena & Duncan Mason.