Sept, 27th, 2023
George is about to meet his girlfriend Millie’s parents, but after being asked to change his shirt by Millie, fear starts to set in as George’s confidence is dented as he questions his identity.
It’s hard to move past the conversations taking place today about sexuality, identity, and gender. Perhaps it is a long-overdue conversation that has been needed, but in this mix, bisexuality continues to occupy such a small part of this conversation. No matter how far the LGBTQ community moves in celebrating and acknowledging the beauty and difference of the community, confusion and, at times, derision seem to plague those who identify as bisexual.
One of the more surprising aspects of this production, directed by the renowned LGBTQ writer/director Nikki Beadle-Blair and co-directed by Yuxuan Liu, was walking into the theatre space. Adorning the walls were images featuring Reynolds and clothes placed unkempt on wire hangers. I really want to believe this is a reference to the legendary film “Mommy Dearest”, that has since become part of the Queer film canon, and the immortal line ‘No more wire hangers’.
There is something in this as I reflect back on this moment. The pictures of Reynolds offer a really touching insight into his life and his story, and the more one walks into the theatre, the more this bond forms between audience and performer. Reynolds is young, and the LGBTQ community has busted down the doors and knocked down walls, meaning that for someone in their twenties, they should be reaping the rewards of the struggle that was. But here we are, about to watch a musical about growing up bisexual in 2023, and as we take our seats, we’re confronted with a wall of wire hangers. As a device for George, the hangers also allow him to use the clothes to accentuate the flashbacks. But they act as a sort of barrier, a threat that injects fear rather than love and acceptance; they are a reminder of the personal struggle that George has been through and the place he doesn’t want to go back to, hiding who he is.
"Beadle-Blair maximises everything that the Turbine Theatre offers and has clearly connected with Reynolds text in such a way that it’s allowed them both to present something unforgettable."
Reynolds conveys happiness and a true acceptance of who he is, which is incredibly powerful and inspiring. As we flashback across George’s life, of a young George playing kiss-chase or being told that boys cannot love boys, both the innocence of youth and the loss of innocence are truly felt. And even as he traverses the social issues he faces, none of them impact the life he wants or the life he is going to live. Reynolds music comes from a place of wisdom that seems far beyond his years, and though, at times, his voice doesn’t always reach the place it wants to go, these moments only add to the beauty of the piece.
Homophobia is still something that confuses me. What is it about someone wanting to live their life their way that gives strangers the right to inject themselves into that life? That moment when a young George is told by a teacher that boys cannot love boys—it's not just the homophobia that is upsetting; it is the ignorance that anyone would want to stop boys or young men from expressing love to one another. Whether LGBTQ or straight men are able to express love, feelings, and emotions to one another is something that is a little alien in the UK. And this is where Reynolds text really shines. It feels real and honest. Even though it’s told through the fictional George, that doesn’t impede how genuine BoyBi is.
BoyBi is Evan Reynolds debut musical that premiered at Camden Fringe before its run at the Turbine Theatre this September. There is something really special in this production that is heartbreaking but also uplifting. For any LGBTQ performer to work with Beadle-Blair, must be exhilarating. Beadle-Blair maximises everything that the Turbine Theatre offers and has clearly connected with Reynolds text in such a way that it’s allowed them both to present something unforgettable.