Perhaps one of the most creatively exciting things to come out of lockdown has been the rise and evolution of digital theatre. Though born somewhat from necessity during the COVID pandemic, I am fascinated to see how digital performances play with narrative form within this new sub-genre of theatre. In watching Blonde Boss Theatre Company’s show Me ‘Ansum, I was struck by the form changing possibilities of digital theatre, and how the conventions of recorded media and theatrical work could be effectively hybridised.
Me ‘Ansum is a patchwork piece, created by its founders Leonie Barnes-Wake, Lydia Webb and Georgi Bessey, featuring original monologues and songs by Eleanor Sawyer, Morgan Waters, Megan Robertson, Tianna Weir, Fran Harman and Josie Lauren Ellis. Me ‘Ansum’s central plot follows Saff and Bella, two students navigating the new socially distanced world of further education, as they bond over a joint university project and begin to realise that their feelings for one another might not be entirely platonic. Intercut with the ensemble cast’s monologues and music, Me ‘Ansum explores the highs and lows of love, sex and relationships for LGBTQIA+ women in the West Country.
This is a truly charming piece of queer theatre. So often, women’s same sex relationships are not given the space for happiness and tenderness. Indeed, most LGBTQIA+ romances portrayed in the media usually end in tragedy, but this is particularly so for women characters in same sex relationships. Me ‘Ansum, however, brilliantly avoids this trope. The way in which Me ‘Ansum plays with narrative form really enhances the emotional impact of the piece, with the changes in pace provided by the monologues in between the central plot line’s story bringing a greater breadth and depth in showcasing queer women’s experiences. If Saff and Bella’s story functions as the show’s backbone, the monologues and song (written and performed beautifully by Tianna Weir) are the show’s organs, fleshing out what could be a simple rom-com into a show with guts, brains and heart. This is a heart-warming half hour of digital theatre, one which embraces the parameters of its online medium and sores with it to funny, riveting and thought provoking heights.
Review by Alexandra Ricou