The Barons Court Theatre has recently been taken over by new management – the Kibo Productions. The company promises to focus on a more eclectic choice of shows and on creation of a strong bond with the local community – it sounds like a fantastic plan for this neighbourhood pub theatre. One of July’s shows was a double bill – in which the stage and spotlight were given to two artists defining themselves as neurodivergent.
George Steeves – Love & Sex on the Spectrum
George Steeves delivers a monologue on his personal experiences: being on the autism spectrum and discovering his asexual-then-gay sexuality. Coming from an American conservative family, with a father who’s a pastor, this man had quite some hoops to jump through in life.
And jump he does: the hour-long stand-up comedy/autobiographical monologue is filled with details about his sexual initiation and dating cases. All delivered in a form of a “Sex and the City” inspired story with a couple of less-than-joyous moments of emotional breakthroughs. Steeves’ date partners are described using boysband members’ names, which I found a fun little idea. Being the same age as Steeves, I knew exactly who Nick Carter was (Backstreet Boys, hellooooo!), but I could see that some of the audience members were lost in the numerous pop culture references.
With a story like this, the material has lots of potential, but it’s still a bit rough around the edges. Some jokes are not fully ready to be presented (or maybe need adjustments), certain pop culture references from the US don’t quite resonate with the audience as well as they should, and the tech/music setup seems chaotic at best.
Paul Wady – Guerilla Autistics
Wady’s show is described as the “world’s longest-running solo show about being neurodivergent”. It’s been performed for 8 years already, which by itself is impressive – even as an occasional performance, that’s a lot of shows!
Wady brings tons of energy to the stage, balanced by his Buddhist peaceful message, and for an hour gives a hilarious and satirical description of his own life.
The twist? Wady being on various “sound mixer” settings of the neurodiversity spectrum his whole life while only getting diagnosed at 41. The show was filled with accurate descriptions of what does it really mean to be neurodiverse, described in a relatable way. My favourite part of this fast-running presentation was the slide (yes, there’s a presentation displayed on the wall) showcasing autistic people in pop culture and the stereotypes that shows like “The Good Doctor” feed us. You know, a “genius with a brilliant mind but zero social skills or empathy”… Yeah, for sure.
Paul had the original idea for the show to be more interactive, and even prepared “menus” for the audience to use to shape the show. Due to circumstances on the day, this form of the show did not happen, but I still enjoyed his performance in a stripped-down version.
Both shows were strongly autobiographical, and felt like realistic presentations of both performers’ lives. I wouldn’t feel comfortable scoring the typical stars for such personal sharing performances, so I’m leaving the post with no ratings (but then again, it’s not a usual theatre performance I’m used to writing about!).
I attended the performance by PR invitation from Baron’s Court Theatre. All opinions are my own.
An ND Double-bill: Paul Wady and George Steeves
26 – 30 July 2022 7:00 pm