The Lasting Sense of Sudden is one of those plays that everyone – regardless of sexual orientation, race, culture or beliefs – should see. Both sensitive, raw and incredibly well directed, it was commissioned as part of the LGBT+ festival Shout in Birmingham.
Written by Jonathan AP Emrys and directed by Robert F Ball, this play present us with an array of modern issues for the gay community. The strongest message that comes across is that even if you are homophobic or don’t agree with the ‘gay lifestyle,’ what is the point of persecuting them? Issues that we face as gay people are no different to many of the struggles endured by heterosexual couples. Feelings of doubt, loss, break-ups and anxiety are universal emotions that make all of us human.
Opening fiercely with ‘faggot’ and poof’ as the cast present us with derogatory labels, the play goes on to adapt more human terms such as ‘mother’ and ‘sister’ to show how important the other sides to our identity are. It’s not just about our sexuality.
Apples are a constant symbol of death throughout the play, as a stark reminder that there are still those out there suffering unimaginable consequences for being gay. It really struck me when used with the young muslim woman facing persecution by her family.
Whether performing solo or in groups, all actors commanded great gravitas. Charlie Reily was a lesbian whose partner could not be satisfied by just wanting to sleep with another woman, but needed the use of a strap on. This young actress gave us a frank and honest portrayal of an issue that could easily make some people uncomfortable.
The drag queen – portrayed by the wonderfully masterful James Parsons – brought us a character that was lost and ‘just wanted to be a girl.’ Bare-chested Parsons offered up a stark pause for thought, and the nudity was at that moment completely necessary. Most of us would be mortified at standing in front of other people naked, but the performance begged the question: how can I be embarrassed about this male naked body in front of others, when it’s not who I am? Brilliantly delivered, both in this part of the play and throughout, Parsons always had impact.
This play has an effortless flow and beauty to it. Tackling homophobia was not given in long speeches of inequality, or rousing war cries of unjust treatment. Instead, a presentation of stories that gave the audience food for thought. The whole cast were fully immersed with its spirit, and special credit must go to Neil Jackson who brought sensitivity to the roles he played despite never having received formal acting training – a true star.
The Lasting Sense of Sudden is a title which I still can’t get my head around – even after the performance. But perhaps that’s the point? After all, sexuality can never truly be labelled as black or white, it’s confusing and sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Take a couple of hours out of your Saturday evening and go to the Old Joint Stock Theatre. I have seen many plays over the years, but little have moved me like this one. It will really have you contemplating the future of the LGBT+ community and the challenges we face ahead.