DramaLondonReview

Smoke Weed Eat Pussy Everyday – Camden People’s Theatre, London

Reviewer: Scott Matthewman

Performer: Chloë Florence

Cassie is a young lesbian who spends her evenings in the East London illegal party scene. It is the only place she feels she can call home, for like an increasing number of young queer people Cassie is homeless.

Chloë Florence’s spoken-word piece is clearly autobiographical – like her creation Cassie, Florence is homeless and living in hostel accommodation. Throughout the piece, Florence’s own Snapchat stories, videos taken during raves, are projected behind the performer as she performs her poetic monologue about struggling to live in an intersectional part of Britain’s underclass.

Some of the hardest hitting moments come when Cassie attempts to seek help. When interviewing to see if she can get a place in hostel accommodation, the patronising attitude of the manager who brands this as her “last chance” gets short shrift (“like anyone ever gave me a chance in the first place”). And, in a sequence set three years earlier, Cassie’s attempts to get help from homeless charities carry a level of black humour to them as she is bounced from charity to charity, from recorded message to recorded message, forever bumped to the back of the queue when her vocal frustration is taken as unacceptably bad language.

There is a sense that Cassie finds home in the warehouse parties she regularly attends, cadging drugs off friends and strangers in an attempt to ease the pain eating away at her. Still, too, there is the self-awareness of Cassie’s cycle of self-destruction: partying, passing out, recovering and then partying again. But, as she says, “if things don’t change, why should I?”

It is a powerful, often upsetting view of the situation in London, where homelessness is on the rise and LGBT+ people are believed to comprise up to 25% of homeless youth. Help and assistance from government is cut to the bone, and the charities expected to take up the slack can help only handfuls of people. Florence refuses to let her audience turn away, never allowing us to think that watching a play about the subject is going to help anything.

We did this, she tells us once her main piece is completed and she speaks, not as Cassie but as Chloë. We have allowed the queer, the poor, the homeless to be treated as less than people. It’s hard to disagree with such vehemence.

Continues until 23 January 2020.

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Powerful autobiography

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