Serving up a digital variation of their usual live den of inequities, Beau Jangles hosts Razed and Confused, an evening of song, cabaret, experimental art, but above all else, an appreciation and promotion of queer artistry. This evening, four producers who are receiving funding and coaching from other creatives manifest their talents, their panache and flair into an evening which promises puns galore, and a few choice dance moves. For your viewing pleasure this evening, the marvellous quartet of Mr Wesley Dykes, Barbs, Brian and Symoné.
Strutting directly in from the forties, with an uncanny grasp of modern-day Zoom etiquette, Beau makes for an engaging host, charismatic, frank and lyrical– precisely the class act one would expect. Refusing to not share in the spotlight, Beau struts their stuff for a brief number or two, revealing a voice as sharp as their dress-sense and thankfully, as sharp as their tongue. Hosting duties stretch beyond the veil of entertainment, as Beau’s song choices reflect a commentary the evening doesn’t scream about but reminds the audience. That on the eve of the Black Trans Lives matter marches, how many more times will white, or cisgender people apologise, thinking these fix everything, how many more apologies will be issued before everything gets sorted.
It’s perhaps the most candid moment of social commentary in the evening, but not the only, as reminders ripple throughout the acts’ song choices, comedic skits, or artistic expression. On the whole, the four acts work triumphantly well, for the most part, with dips occurring in the more experimental elements which fail to offer a sense of identity or focus. Not unpleasant, merely disjointed, where the intent is evident, but the practice requires work.
What are complete pieces, demonstrating canny ability, are Mr Wesley Dykes ‘Dass Ghey As Fuq’, which seems at first to be a simple skit routine, morphing into a well-thought, still humorous, routine on the assumed ownership of hyper-sexuality by Masculinity. Together with Manly Mannington & Romeo De La Cruz, Dykes’ section deconstructs the obsessive masculinity imposed on young black men, and the damaging effects this fetishizing has, and the denial of enabling young women to express their sexual nature. The Black Boi Band routine is easily the most accomplished of the evening, balancing characterisation, movement, and lip-synching – the real weapons any Drag performer can pull out the bag.
Matching Dykes arsenal, Brian too is qualified lip-synch royalty, sharing the crown this evening for most rounded performance. Reading (a fundamental skill) from Womxn Offering Wisdom, Brian takes a more narrative approach with their performance, tying in fluid movements, similarly to queer circus performer Symoné. The pair share an evident ferocity, Brian’s conveyed through their lip-synching, Symoné through her prowess, almost feline movements. Both maintain a core of emotion; however, Symoné frequently recalls the Tarot card ‘Joker’, using a variety of video editing, and capitalises on effects to bewitch and alter reality.
Editing is a skill of Barbs, and while technically excellent, the piece struggles in communicating with the audience. The furthest from live theatre or performance, Barb’s routine lays as a short film, with various forms of imagery, costume, and aesthetical changes to further the film. As a collective, the liveness of Razed & Confused works, largely due to our host, but truly offers a snippet of the tremendous capabilities of these performers and their ability to hold a crowd. Teaming with Something to Aim For – Razed & Confused promotes the necessity of championing queer and black performers and will leave the audience dazed, hungry and ravenous to experience more from the Raze Collective – live or otherwise.
Reviewed on 26 June 2020