Bootycandy @ Gate Theatre Review

The Gate Theatre are sending a clear signal across the theatre industry with award-winning Bootycandyopening their first ever season at their new home in Camden. There is little regard for the Western three-act structure as the play hurtles in and out of a new world full of life, colour and laughter by Gate Theatre Associate Artist Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu who directed sold-out runs of For Black Boys Who Have Considered Contemplate Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy.

Robert O’Hara‘s subversive comedy premieres in the UK at the Gate following wide acclaim in the states where it first opened over a decade ago. Bootycandy, a semi-autobiographical play, strings together scenes in Sutter’s life and those around him to chronicle what it might be like being a queer black boy in 1970’s America. The rawness of storytelling is unflinchingly unfiltered and brought to life in the most exquisite way by a phenomenal cast of performers who radiate talent to every corner of the auditorium. Bimpé Pachecoand DK Fashola deserve special mention for their double-act phone performance which brought tears of joy to many in the audience. Prince Kundai is perfectly endearing, Luke Wilson delivers layers from hilarity and bemusement and Roly Botha, a natural comedian.

Using a minimal set and costume, the actors used their body to set the scene. Music was also used powerfully to transcend traditional limits and feel of theatre. It feels impossible to sit still and sip your wine when the beat is calling out for you to dance and respond to the play with rhythm. There are elements of gig theatre reminiscent of the aesthetic in For Black Boys as well as the unapologetic celebration of Black queer masculinity that is fast becoming Tristan’s trademark direction. There are points however where the American accent becomes unintelligible when trying to keep pace with a fast-moving script. O’Hara’s writing could do with a little more space to breathe in a few scenes so that spectacle did not eclipse meaning.

The play is best consumed as vignettes because they are like too sweet short stories that are brimming with social commentary, crammed together layer upon layer that requires days  to digest and threatens to discombobulate, dare you try and fit them together like an everyday jigsaw. That is the lesson perhaps, they won’t fit in one sitting because this story is multi-faceted and too rich in complexity. I’m excited to see what’s to come from the Gate this season following such a bold and exciting play.

By Tasnim Siddiqa Amin.

Follow Tasnim on Instagram: @tasnimsiddiqaamin & WordPress.

Bootycandy is currently showing until Saturday 11th March 2023 at Theatro Technis. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop