“We’re here, we’re queer and we’re mentally unclear,” sing the trio of Here and Queer Productions in the opening and closing number of their 10-minute show, a melody which is surprisingly catchy for its simplicity.
We’re soon introduced to the three characters: Mark (Bradley Birkholz), a man indefinitely questioning his identity whilst living with anxiety; Tom (Jakob Noah), a trans man with anxiety and depression; and Jess (Izzy Joan), a non-binary bisexual with bipolar disorder. While it’s hard to fully gage the atmosphere in the room from the online recording alone, the framing of their expositions through a kind of support group does well to generate some audience participation. From an acting perspective, it makes their stories all the more authentic and convincing.
Lyrically, there are impressive interlacing of stories (and with that, harmonies), as well as clever wordplay. “No rest for the wicked, well wicked, I must be,” sings Izzy, in a delicate song about life with bipolar disorder. The tone of the music is one which never undermines the sensitivities of the subject matter. In fact, in singing and delivering the monologues, speaking their truths, the three perform with confidence. For Izzy, with their background as a musician, this is to be expected if you knew this fact, but we see great rapport between them and Jakob throughout, from regular eye contact to jokes at the final bows. For what is essentially a trio singing behind microphones, the expression is there for the most part. The slight exception is Birkholz, whose body language is minimalistic when singing, but energetic when explaining Mark’s experiences with religion and homophobia. It could well be intentional for a character who may well be more introverted, but the difference in presentation when compared to Tom and Jess is somewhat noticeable.
With that being said, the 10-minute show – a shorter version which would later precede the full musical, staged at the Queer Week Festival last year – still manages to explore a lot in its limited running time, opening up about queer experiences and mental health with care and honesty.
Here, Queer and Mentally Unclear debuted at the queer night club Duckie in July 2019 and is available to watch now on YouTube.