Lockdown changed a lot of things for a lot of people. It was, for many of us, an incredibly dark and fearful time; stepping into the unknown, existing in a world that had suddenly shrunk almost beyond recognition. But for some, it was a time of self reflection and discovery. For many in the LGBTQIA+ community – or indeed, those who were beginning to realise they are a part of that community – lockdown became a time to delve into our identities in a safe and private space. Self expression, gender identity and gender performance have become hot topics over the course of the past few years. While some grew in the acceptance of their identities over lockdown, others became fixated on policing the identities of others. Returning to a near ‘normal’ world post-lockdown has brought a lot of this turmoil – both inner and external – to a head, and Greedy Pig Theatre Company’s new play, Peacock, explores many of these topics with nuance and unbridled joy.
Written by Douglas Murdoch and directed by Lex Kaby, Peacock follows three friends, Seamus (Ben Armitage), Tyrell (Kofi Dennis) and Violet (Alexandra Wollacott) as they navigate small town life in their mid-twenties. As the three central characters work hard to keep a crystals-come-psychic-readings shop afloat, Seamus struggles with the implications and societal expectations of what it is to be a bisexual cis-man who wants to express themselves through make-up. This is a play of many facets, delving into the lives of the ensemble cast to reveal each of their emotional journeys through the course of the play. Tyrell’s blossoming drag act and rift with his beloved older brother; Violet’s mission to be heard and recognised by local gatekeepers; and the fourth member of their growing friendship group, Noah (Toby Mitchell), as he attempts to come to terms with the emotional realities of being a straight, cis-man in the 21st Century; all of these journeys are given the space to grow and develop in a way that is so often missed in traditional narratives.
Peacock is above all things a celebration. Though the painful realities of being queer in modern Britain are not glossed over, this is not a tragic narrative. It is a play about acceptance, love and living your truth. The cast are a joy to watch, and their chemistry as an ensemble is palpable. Murdoch’s writing is lifted from the page with such dynamic ease that the play almost doesn’t feel scripted at all. With perhaps one of the most startlingly honest depictions of bisexual identity I have seen onstage, this is a piece of queer theatre that demands to be seen. While queer representation has vastly increased and improved over the past decade, there is still so much to be explored and Peacock is a prime example of LGBTQIA+ narratives being told with clear cut honesty by queer creatives. I sincerely hope this won’t be the last we see of this glorious show!