Produced by Shift and Traverse, Scotland’s first ever LGBTQI+ playwright festival, the Pride Plays, returns for another year. The second night, Pride Plays: 2, features 787 Blinks by Gabriella Sloss, and Elastic by JD Stewart. While Edinburgh’s streets are full of Valentine’s Day-themed heart-shaped balloons, fairy lights and posters, these plays expose their audiences to the not-so-fairy-tale side of relationships.
787 Blinks powerfully demonstrates society’s patriarchal structures. It explores toxic masculinity, artificial feminism, body language, silent violence, sexual intercourse and the differing experiences of people engaged in the same act. Throughout the play, the characters’ intense feelings of vulnerability, rage, guilt, love, and hatred fully consume the audience. Through a powerful and sensitive narrative, Gabriella Sloss highlights how privilege sometimes construes feminism in a negative light and reduces gender equality to something of a motivational speech exercise.
Meanwhile, Elastic explores relationships that are shaped by the closed, defined borders of the world. It tackles the issue of emigration and attends to the causes of this human flow, such as homophobia. The story exposes the audience to the complications of Green Card marriages and the security threats that LGBTQI+ community members go through, whether in a host country or at home.
The uniqueness of both plays lies in their direction and plot development. With Elastic, instead of expressing the content as a chronological adventure with a few key moments, Stewart puts the present moment first, then shows how the main characters reach this point. This choice powerfully emphasises the primary importance of the present because this is the only time where change can still be effected.
In contrast, 787 Blinks uses chronological development to build up interest and tension amongst the audience. Characters’ flashbacks are introduced as the plot progresses. This maintains tension throughout the play and ties the entire plot together, revealing aspects of silent violence even in scenes that are full of comedy. Furthermore, the dialogue is spoken out loud more than acted, which helps the audience focus on the storyline and the playwrights’ wording.
Overall, both plays take a unique approach to their delivery and are successful in leaving space for the audience’s imagination.
Pride Plays: 2 ran at Traverse 2 between 14-15 February 2020.
Featured image credit: Traverse Theatre