Writer: Teddy Lamb
Director: Billy Barrett
When Teddy Lamb is called ‘he’ they feel as if they are wearing an ill-fitting suit, the collar so stiff it chafes, but when Teddy Lamb is called ‘they’ they feel as if they are wearing the most comfortable clothes. Since U Been Gone is a timely examination of pronouns: it’s also an examination of grief.
At college Lamb had two best friends and for a while the three of them were inseparable, sneaking off classes to smoke dope. But as the years have passed, now there is only Lamb. One of their friends died in an accident, while the other, the ‘U’ of the show’s title, lost her battle to depression.
Lamb’s description of the moments they found out about both of these deaths is raw and honest. For the most their storytelling is clear, and we can easily see them walk away from the date with a married man when they find out their closest friend has died. Lamb is haunted by the telephone calls they had to make and the calls they didn’t take. In a chilling moment Lamb remembers the time they faked laryngitis so they didn’t have to speak on the phone at all.
Some parts of the story are obscure, as perhaps they are too painful for Lamb to share. But there’s also celebration in Since U Been Gone, as intertwined in the story of grief, is the story of Lamb’s survival, a journey also related in Simon David’s Over My Dad’s Body, which played at the VAULT Festival last week. When the two friends were alive, they saw Lamb as a gay male, but now, since they’ve been gone, Lamb is non-binary, eschewing restrictive gender pronouns, brave enough to wear a dress outside.
Gender is a messy business and Pete Butler’s set, gaudy and functional, soon becomes messy too, with blue and pink paper cups scattered all over the floor. Strumming guitar throughout is Nicol Parkinson, and the music adds some atmosphere to proceedings, and even a little Taylor Swift.
Perhaps the story of grief and the story of ‘coming out’ as non-binary are two different stories, but for Teddy Lamb these two narratives are impossible to untangle. This is their story, after all.
Runs until 9 February 2020
STAR RATING: 3.5
Summary phrase: Breathing for the first time