Milk Presents: Self Service
Clever experimental cabaret exploring queer identity at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
Since the definition of 'queer' is contested (it tends to be a bucket for anything outside of the norm), a cabaret dedicated to explaining it is long overdue. The three performers, with added help from a musician and two audience members as compères, use the episodic format to meditate on a series of queer identities, helped along with some vox pops and the occasional political speech.
The problem, as articulated by the musician towards the end, is that queer is contradictory: it is the label for those who refuse a label. Chasing it, as Milk do, is self-defeating. While admitting this is moral, it isn't dramatic, and the show tails off towards the end.
Before that, however, there are fun routines about the pain of cross-dressing, the ironies of gay marriage and an unnecessary tribute to Riot Grrrl. The cast are charismatic, amiable and talented, conquering everything from dead pan humour to effusive musical numbers. The lip-syncing and drag mark this out as more experimental than the average cabaret but, given queer's bold history as the word for the wild and radical, the overall effect is charming and playful rather than robust and demanding.
Northern Stage at King's Hall, run ended.