The B in the Room

Sat 4th – Sat 11th August 2018

reviews

Olivia Cooke

at 09:37 on 12th Aug 2018

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The intimate and small venue of The Vault proved to be the perfect setting to host UCL Runaround’s production of ‘The B in the Room’. Directed by Joey Jepps, the performance depicted the parallel journeys of Dana and Elliot as both characters undergo a journey of self-discovery to grasp a more profound understanding of their selves and their sexualities.

Through the excellent characterisation of Dana and Elliot in their soliloquies and the infrequent moments of shared dialogue, both characters are able to extract the audience’s empathy for their personal struggles to fulfil their bisexual identities. We are able to explore the complex process of determining one’s own sexuality, in addition to questioning both the institutions and norms which attempt to impose a heteronormative order to romantic relationships.

Elliot is a devout Christian whose internalised biphobia results from his dutiful following of the Bible. Consumed by an almost comic religious fervour, there are multiple occasions throughout the performance when his character recites, verbatim, scriptural passages including the infamous Leviticus verse: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is an abomination.” Offset by Dana’s views on the Church (“Religion’s fucked. The Church is fucked [.]”), ‘The B in the Room’ makes overt and well-justified criticism against the biphobic/homophobic practices of the Church. Yet, Christianity is a formative part of Elliot’s identity and plays an important role in his coming to terms with his sexuality. However, the play's sudden ending does leave you wondering whether or not the Christian community will allow Elliot to fully explore his feelings, free from judgment.

The production’s unique setting, coupled with the audience’s close proximity to the cast members, creates an environment which allows the audience to really engage with the thematic content of the performance. Overall, the production’s subtle and nuanced exploration of bisexuality proved to be both hilarious and moving, which was doubly enhanced by both performers' excellent portrayals of their respective characters.

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Melissa Tutesigensi

at 09:50 on 12th Aug 2018

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‘The B in the Room’ is the UCL Runaround’s two person play that shows the internal thoughts of Dana (Miranda Evans) and Elliot (Miles Blanch). On the surface, they are worlds apart: Dana is a thirty-something professional woman with no belief in God or the church, whilst Elliot is a teenage boy rooted in his Christian faith. But look closer and you will see that for all of their differences, they share the same conflicts, fears and worries, as both of them try to come to terms with their sexuality. You can get the sense of who these people are in just one line: “I know where my clitoris is but where the fuck is hers?” (Dana) and “what if I did something to make her angry? I did eat the last biscuit in Sunday school last week” (Elliot). Both Evans and Blanch were convincing in their portrayal of these characters.

Dana and Elliot were utterly symbiotic in strengthening the motif that though they are different people, they have a similar story to tell. Dana would end her monologue with the same word that Elliot would start his, and so on. They would both use all parts of the stage and interact with each other at the right level, but so as to not conflict. At no point did it feel as though they were bumping into each other or getting in each other’s way. This way of passing the mic. and sharing the stage was executed well, and smoothed over potential rough-edges in delivery.

There were moments where the fluid movement and interaction between the two characters didn’t quite work in the dialogue. The fourth wall was already broken, implicit as this was, and this suited the story they wanted to tell. But, with a character thinking out loud and then interacting directly with the other and then becoming a different person altogether, it felt like they were needlessly breaking windows as well. Nonetheless, this confusion was only a minor flicker, and the play was able to overcome it. They could have quite comfortably used a split screen but chose a more intricate and delicate way of weaving each character in and out which, for the most part, paid off.

You could tell that it was a last-night show as the actors were polished and confident in their delivery. They knew when the audience would laugh and how to move on stage, giving off an assured play that was a pleasure to watch.

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