'These Walls Between Us': A Tender and Troubled Story of Nineties Queerness

December 7, 2019

'These Walls Between Us' follows the stories of two interracial gay couples in the 1990's through a series of spliced-together duets and dance pieces. These relationships are interwoven with the turbulent political situation of Thatcher, section 28, AIDS, and feminist politics showing how politics breaks down the 'walls' around our most intimate spaces, invading our most private relationships.

 

Photo Credit: Will Nash

 

Juxtaposing two relationships, those between Esther, twenty five year old poet, and Kathy, a nineteen year old radical feminist, and between Leonard, the artist and queer socialite, and Mark, the troubled banker, added structure and complexity to the play. Phrases and problems echoed between the relationships, giving a universality and depth to the issues discussed. Enigmatic dance sequences played between the characters contributed to the superb chemistry between the couples and delved into the troubled tenderness of these relationships.

 

Dramatic language, lighting and choreography are present from the start of the play and only heighten as the plot evolves. Whilst I enjoyed the overtly stylistic writing when it added gravitas to the action with rhyme and cutting extended metaphors, particularly that on the walls forming both between gay characters and the world and between the couples themselves, in other moments the language felt a little too theatrical. In places the audience could have done with more room to breathe, away from highly-charged dialogue. These relationships were incredibly well fleshed out and the audience would have been able to enjoy them for what they were without needing to lean into the drama of every moment. 

 

Whilst 'These Walls Between Us' is set over two decades ago, the politics of feminism, visibility and the closet still felt very relevant to the modern day. Mark's description of his experience of being closeted at his office job and how he "never feels at ease in the city" but always feels like there is a target on his back will still resonate with many LGBTQ+ people today. Similarly, Esther and Kathy's disagreement between women's liberation and the gay rights movement reverberated with meaning for modern day debates.

 

'These Walls Between Us' is intimate. The audience is invited into the couples bedroom, and more importantly their lives. It delves into the rawness of these relationships at a particular historical moment. This play left me aching. But it also left me with a fresh perspective on those who have walked the paths we follow today before us and what we might hope to learn from them.

 

'These Walls Between Us' is on in the Bush House Auditorium until the 8th of December and tickets are available here (with £3 tickets available for LGBT+ society members).

 

Edited by Alexia McDonald, Head Digital Editor

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