STAGE REVIEW: Bus Stop Goths @ ARC, Stockton (25.04.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Matthew Cooper

Bus Stop Goths is another incredible production from the feral mind of Audrey Cook. I loved the theatrical cabaret of Ricky the Itch, and Bus Stop Goths take that fantastically Queer energy to the next level.

This two night show has been paired with a beautiful exhibition, showing photographs of our local community, celebrating the alternative scene in ‘Boro. Walking through the gallery of goth, emo and punk portraits sets the stage perfectly for what we’re all about to experience. Taking our seats, the actors are already in place, asleep on the job in a jumble of cardboard boxes, filing cabinets and to-go cups spilling over the desk.

When the lights dim, a voice over fills the room, instantly cracking jokes based on Northern alternative culture. We are introduced to the bureaucratic world of angels watching over Albert Road. Our protagonists are the “vibrant, vigorous, velvety vivacious” Viv, played by Mimi Loughran, and the “scintillating, sworded, insidious” Sid, played by Audrey Cook. These two guardians bring so much presence to the stage, that with only two actors in the room the space still felt full and the audience bounced off of their energy. It’s rare that I’ve been in a room with so much laughter. The drag factor is turned up, as they climb over the set, explaining exactly who they are, in a room described as “if a bin lorry had a womb.”

Who needs to fit in anyway? We all just need to find our people and a place that we can be exactly who we are, unapologetically

The story truly kicks off when a game of ‘smash or pass’ goes awry. While looking through their usual client base, they realise teenagers have started getting mixed into their files. The kids aren’t alright and are sending prayers stronger than the adults.

When the pair break into a spoken word piece, I end up covered in goosebumps. Audrey has always given fantastic poetic performances, shown when they performed The Golem Steals Your Shoes during Pilot Theatres Northern Girls project, and this was no exception. We learn about the experiences of ‘GOFFs’, the Queer, trans and alternative youngsters of Teesside, and Viv and Sid take action.

In an attempt to help, they unleash hell, giving these kids a range of new abilities, from thicker skin to talking to bugs (and claws to help them dig up the bugs they need to talk to). The writing in this show is a perfect blend of humour and social commentary, bringing the relevant issue of young LGBTQIA+ people feeling lost, out of place and abandoned to the forefront while celebrating the culture from which they come.

Who needs to fit in anyway? We all just need to find our people and a place that we can be exactly who we are, unapologetically. In that room, I think the audience, crew and actors all found it. Deeply moving and completely unhinged, the standing ovation at the end of this performance was well deserved. Bus Stop Goths is a show for the outcasts, and in that hour I’ve never felt more accepted.

Bus Stop Goths continues on Friday 26th April at ARC, Stockton

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