It’s always so refreshing to see a new generation of creators stepping into the spotlight, especially when they bring something as personal and vital as Evan Reynolds’ “BoyBi” to the stage. The Turbine Theatre, known for nurturing fresh and queer voices in theatre, continues its tradition by giving Evan the stage to share “BoyBi,” a tale that dives into the uncharted waters of bisexuality and self-discovery. Is this a ready show? I don’t think so, to me it was more of a work-in-progress performance – but still a pleasant watch.
A Wardrobe of Memories: George’s Journey Unfolds
The musical introduces us to George, a 19-year-old bi-boy who’s about to meet his fiancée’s conservative parents. As he stands before his wardrobe, searching for the perfect outfit, we journey through time with him, exploring his own identity and his journey toward self-acceptance.
The narrative skillfully raises weighty questions like, “If I date a girl now, does it mean I’m straight again?” and “Should I prioritise my expression or the safety of my relationship?”
The show is directed by the extremely talented and experienced Rikki Beadle-Blair , who also directed the absolutely stunning “Wreckage” this year (see my review here).
Threads of Memory: A “Time Shift” through George’s Life
Each piece of clothing triggers a memory, and a familiar “time shift” sound leads us through pivotal moments in George’s life. We witness his first infatuation with a girl and the unexpected kiss from a boy. We follow him through encounters with his best (gay) friend and his current partner. The show crescendos with George’s decision to wear a rainbow-coloured tank top for the family meeting, a choice that defies conservative expectations.
Laughs and Lulls: Humour and Authenticity
The humour in “BoyBi” has its highs and lows, with some jokes hitting the mark and others falling flat. While some might attribute it to an age gap, it’s more likely a matter of personal taste. What truly shines through is Evan’s authenticity and heart, which permeate every aspect of this production.
Musical Highs and Lows: Evan’s Journey
Musically, the show displays its youthful spirit but carries some uneven notes. Evan’s initial stress is palpable, affecting the opening number with unclear notes and timing issues. However, as the performance unfolds, it’s evident that Evan progressively relaxes, enjoying the moment more, particularly in his rap pieces, which are delivered with flair.
Vocally, the show is a work in progress, but it’s filled with genuine emotion and a clear passion for storytelling. With an experienced vocal coach and musical director, I can see a lot of potential for the future development of “BoyBi”.
Harmonising the Score: Some Work Still Needed
The musical arrangements, though, require some cohesion. They currently feel like a mix of disparate elements, from keyboard accompaniment pieces to slower rap beats and even a song featuring Hammond organs (or something sounding similar). Incorporating a live band or at least a recording using “real” instruments and not just ready computer-generated melodies could elevate the production significantly. Right now, it just doesn’t feel like it’s fully giving justice to the main message in the production.
Uncovering George’s Layers: A Deeper Dive
In terms of storytelling, “BoyBi” touches upon moments of George’s self-discovery, particularly when he’s trying to find his voice among his peers. However, there’s room for a deeper exploration of his character. The show leaves the audience somewhat on the outside, focusing more on his love for fashion and the need to express his identity to family and friends. George, with his vivacious exterior, undoubtedly has more stories to share, and there’s potential for a more profound emotional connection with the audience.
Bright Horizons: The Future of Queer Storytelling
In an era that champions originality on stage, “BoyBi” exemplifies the creative energy of young artists like Evan. With time and polishing, we may see a new wave of deeply personal and touching queer stories taking London’s theatres by storm. “BoyBi” may currently be a work in progress, but it hints at the bright future of queer storytelling in the world of theatre. Keep an eye on this budding talent; the best is yet to come.
Gifted: I received the ticket to see the show in exchange for honest review.
26th – 30th September 2023
A new solo musical: a boy learning to love his bi