Bootycandy – Gate Theatre, London

Reviewer: Jamie Barnes

Writer: Robert O’Hara

Director: Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu

Funny, profound and evocative, Bootycandy is a show full of surprises, covering a range of topics, all of which provoke lasting thoughts around race and sexuality in society.

A self-described ‘semi-autobiographical, kaleidoscopic, Black queer fever dream’, Bootycandy follows Sutter (Prince Kundai) through a series of events that shape his identity, drawing on family conversations, sexual encounters, and personal fantasies and imaginings. Each individual vignette reflects an emotional journey that Sutter experiences with a variety of characters, most of which push the audience to discomfort, but in a way that demonstrates the importance of talking about subjects such as racism and homophobia. The play itself is well-structured, layering stories within stories, breaking the fourth wall, and interacting with the audience, making the play an almost immersive experience.

Prince Kundai pulls the various stories together through his adaptable interpretations of Sutter and is supported by the rest of the cast, each playing multiple roles, across many ages, genders, and occupations. Luke Wilson delivers an electrifying performance as Reverend Benson, a character which leads the audience to think about the impact of homophobia in society, all while wearing gold platform boots and a wig and addressing his congregation. Wilson is equally proficient in the roles as Larry, and Sutter’s grandmother.

Roly Botha provides expertly balanced comedy and drama in their assorted characters. They are able to bring a sense of genuine desperation to the characters of Roy, Sutter’s friend and lover, and Clint, an intriguing side character who becomes a vital catalyst in Sutter’s life.

Bimpé Pacheco and DK Fashola each bring well-developed drama to the stage, sharing a chemistry that makes it impossible not to watch them. Their shared scenes, such as a phone conversation about a character naming their daughter Genitalia, and later a ceremony to celebrate the breakup of Genitalia and her partner Intifada, are full of surprises, each presenting the satirical elements with ease.

Jahmiko Marshall’s lighting design is utilised throughout the show to create new atmospheres and environments, as well as aiding scene changes. However, the most prominent area of the lighting design is its ability to mimic the emotional states that are relevant to the characters in the scene. Duramaney Kamara’s sound design is also able to establish the world in which the story takes place, using sound to transform the bare stage into nightclub toilets, or a New York bus stop.

Bootycandy is a show that is not meant to be digested easily, many of its subject matters are uncomfortable and strained, but it addresses problems in life and society that provoke thought, all the while delivering entertainment through drama and comedy. The deconstructed element of the play allows for the audience to become more involved in the action, which is one of the main reasons the satirical drama hits the mark. O’Hara has delivered a show that is relatable, humorous and touching, all while dealing with harsh topics and difficult characters.

Runs until 11 March 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

A fabulously bittersweet story

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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