Film

Sparkfest 2021 Roundup

It’s the time of the local fringe festival again (or it would be if it were not cancelled for the second year in a row) but taking its place once again is the digital arts festival organised by my old university, Sparkfest. I’ll note here that I have no specific loyalty to my alma mater, but watching new, fresh, upcoming talent is always exciting. I’ll be updating this article periodically over the next few weeks as I watch more things.

Superspreader: Sex In Lockdown

The first production from local theatre collective From Rags to Witches delivers comedic insights on surviving the last year while single. Presented as a reality TV show from a universe I wish were alternate the leads Alex Woolacot, Holly Leggett and Vanessa Ndema play three women documented in the search for love; searching for a man so as to feel less lonely, dissatisfed and bored. Across from them — as the men attempting to be wooed — are Alex Woolacot, Holly Leggett and Vanessa Ndema again: this time as their drag king personas Dwayne Pipe, Tag L’iatelli and Arch3Wills.

There’s definitely a question here about what we look for in our partners, how we’re attracted to our superficial similarities and are surprised by the differences. As we’re introduced to each of the characters we immediately understand that they are searching for partners not in an open minded attempt to expand the self, but in a desparate grasp to clarify it. These characters may not be wholly relatable, if they are I may be worried for you, but their anxieties and their underpinnings totally are. It’s a joy to see these people, all trying to seem so sure of themselves, be spun gently out of control.

Wonderfully, it’s the kings who get the most openly emotional moments; whenever the pace starts to slow and the mood gets unexpectedly sincere it’s undoubtedly one of the guys in the spotlight. The fact that we end up caring about these characters whose conceits are so wholly comedic is a huge win for the creative team, and signifies a consideration not immediately apparent from the light and breezy form the piece takes.

Superspeader: Sex in Lockdown is a funny and engaging work from some talented young creatives, and is screening again on May 24th & June 10th. Tickets are available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/bathspalive

Me ‘Ansum

Billed as a production to mull over the question ‘Is she flirting, or just being friendly?’ the latest show by Blonde Boss Theatre is a celebration and the highs and lows of queer identity. Staged as a series of video calls between two students, an out lesbian and someone questioning their sexuality for the first time, the show immerses us in those painstaking moments as they tentaively try to figure out what exactly they mean to each other.

Fantastically observed, and played with sensitivity and warmth, the format invites the audience in to their points of view, asks us to inhabit their eyes and make sense of what we’re seeing. All flirtations are nervewracking in a sense, but queer ones especially so, and the low-tech, homemade style lends an electricity to the events. It’s honestly impossible not to get swept up in.

Interspersed between their scenes are a collection of monologues, spoken word and song from queer artists — all centered on the theme of desire — that provide moments of insight and reflection amidst the narrative. It’s a wonderfully textured work: earnest and honest and immediate.

Me ‘Ansum is a lovely queer drama, I’d definitely recommend it. Upcoming screenings are on May 24th & June 11th, tickets are available at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/bathspalive

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