Theatre reviews: Prefer Not to Say | Splintered, Paradise in the Vault & Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh

Two shows, alike in concept.

Prefer Not to Say, Paradise in the Vault (Venue 29)

Prefer Not to Say, Paradise in the Vault, Until 25 August * * *

Splintered, Bedlam Theatre, Until 25 August * *

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Both use testimony collected through interviews with the LGBT community presented as a series of verbatim sketches. The Riot Road company canvassed opinions around the UK over a period of 18 months, producing the quickfire monologues of Prefer Not To Say.

Despite opening with a striking Sally Bowles dominatrix drag queen and her three eager cheerleaders, it is clear that life is not a cabaret for these individuals. The themes which emerge – the polarised debate on trans rights, religious intolerance, coming out to parents – are familiar but remain relevant, and are well represented in slick, naturalistic performances which really inhabit those voices and explore the nuances of an experience which is far from uniform.

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All the Scotsman critics 5-star reviews from the 2019 Festivals

The Caribbean is still one of the worst places on earth to be gay – just check out the brazenly homophobic lyrics of some Jamaican dancehall tracks for starters – but Splintered celebrates a proud, determined subculture with its self-styled carnival. After all, what is carnival, if not a celebration of emancipation?

The three young female performers have dance-floor energy, infectious enthusiasm and cheeky humour in abundance but their delivery is a bit chaotic and the material is not sufficiently finessed to hang together as a satisfying hour of theatre.