Words: Ali Michaels
Section 28 is a piece of legislation passed in1988 that said ‘a local authority shall not intentionally promote homosexuality.’ The impact of such legislation has rippled through generations which After the Act explores through musical verbatim. The powerful piece is made up of words from those who were affected at the time as well as the people who had to live in its aftermath.
Set to a 80s style synth score, After the Act manages to reflect the time and still feel extremely relevant. The echoes of the attacks on transgender people are notable before they are explicitly and powerfully said in the dialogue.
Breach Theatre are no strangers to creating verbatim theatre, except this time many lyrics are lost. Information is thrown at speed and coupled with dropping of diction and powerful musical underscoring, many narrative moments go over the audience’s heads.
We don’t have time to stop to think though, for we have already sped through years and the narrative has moved on. Covering incomprehensibly homophobic parliamentary debates, newspaper headlines at the time and even a satirical Maggy Thatcher in a sequined dress, the rate at which we receive information is overwhelming.
Though the audience needs to stop for a breath, the performers don’t seem to need to. Entirely performed by four performers: Tina Mu-Tamir, Ellice Stevens, E.M. Williams and Zachary Willis, they seamlessly changed in and out of various characters, bringing to life each word complete with accents and physical shifts. Particular praise to Zachary Willis, who assumed different accents and body language with as much ease as a tailored glove.
The most moving of stories came from a lesbian PE teacher, too scared to comfort a teenager struggling with their sexuality for fear of losing her job.
Created by Ellice Stevens and Billy Barrett, the passion of this piece is clear. This act was recently abolished. LGBTQ+ rights are under threat. It is in this way that After the Act is vital. At times messy and under-finessed with dance moves or notes going awry, it does not sway the undercurrent of the show that forces us to remember the past and learn from it.
After the Act (A Section 28 Musical)
Traverse Theatre, Traverse 1
12-13, 15-20, 22-27 Aug