Butterfly is a queer anthology which sizzles with an electric energy. On stage, five individuals from history gather, their extraordinary stories forgotten about until this moment. Its timely staging in LGBT History Month is one thing, but these past tales of struggle, defiance and liberation have a raw and contemporary resonance.
It’s a certain flair explored both in Butterfly‘s creative team and company. The unique experiences offer up five fresh approaches to storytelling for writing and directing duo Sam Arbor and Clodagh Chapman. Frances’ (Ericka Posadas) fight for LGBT music spaces ventures into some fiery gig theatre, while Sabina – her story written and performed by Anusha Abbas – is told in rhythmic spoken word. The latter’s form is rather fitting for a tale about a young lesbian, Muslim woman trying to express her sexuality in language.
When it comes to the vigour of the cast, Anna Fenton-Garvey delivers a stand-out performance as Mary, an 18th century woman who makes a beard out of her own pubic hair (yes, really). It’s exceptional for the way in which Mary playfully rejects the eccentricities of her time, with Fenton-Garvey reeling off one-liners with hilarious cheek and shamelessness.
As storytellers, we are drawn to the various ways in which they present their confidence, from drag queen Dennis’ (Tom Taplin) awkwardness (that is, until an extraordinary finale to the show which is too fabulous to reveal) to the emotionally-charged Frances. Even when music unfortunately drowns out the majority of Morgan’s monologue, Eden Peppercorn’s portrayal of the character with the typical, no-nonsense rural swagger still makes it captivating in a lean-forward-in-your-seat kind of way.
Butterfly is now playing at VAULT Festival until 28 February.
Production Images: Bedlam Chorus.
Disclaimer: I saw Butterfly for free in exchange for a review as someone who is currently a part of VAULT Festival’s Emerging Critics scheme. I did not receive any payment for my involvement in the scheme or for this review, and all opinions stated above are honest and my own.