DramaNorth East & YorkshireReviewUncategorized

Fitting – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Reviewer: Alice Hiley

Co-creators: Matt Miller and Peader Kirk

Matt Miller does not slot into just one easy definition or category, so it makes sense that this solo show is a little bit of everything: theatre, fashion, spoken word and a sprinkling of magic.

The creators use sleight of hand and a wardrobe’s worth of outfits to demonstrate the “magic” of venturing out in a dress one day, a suit the next, and being treated utterly differently by the people they meet, becoming (like the balls hiding behind cups and up sleeves) invisible or visible whenever they choose.

There are choreographed routines set to digital recordings of interviews with lesbian and transgender people. There are several brilliant Fleabag-esque encounters with strangers represented by Matt in different voices and accents: they switch between and bring to life the manspreader on the bus, the gold-dress-wearing beauty at the club and the bewildered assistant at the charity shop with ease.

But Matt is most endearing and real when they’re being themselves. It’s an honest performance that lets you see them at their most vulnerable and confused as well as at their happiest and most exuberant.

You might expect more of an “extravaganza”, and while there are glitzy bags and sequin pants what you actually get is a lot more subdued and subtle. It’s a good example of what spoken word can be when it’s not too preachy, staged or showy, feeling more like a conversation with the audience.

At times the language feels repetitive and the link between the magic and the text seems unclear or like a slight distraction. The best trick is when Matt tells us that their nickname for their girlfriend is “mi media naranja”, and makes a small tangerine appear from nowhere. The fruit reappears every time Matt tells us a story about someone asking them “what their half orange thinks about all this.”

The whole show plays with, disrupts and dismantles language in interesting ways: the script starts with “a man stands on stage, wearing grey trousers” despite the fact Matt enters in a dress – the words are often at odds with the reality. We end up with “someone who manifests as a man” and then “a person” standing on stage. You leave questioning the things we all say everyday without pausing to think of how they might be interpreted. You wonder whether any category or identity is really as stable or solid as it appears.

Fitting isn’t really about fitting in at all, by the end you’re not convinced this is something Matt really wants. Instead it’s a moving story about navigating the room outside the binary and trying to make new spaces that are “neither side of the aisle”.

Touring the UK

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. 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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