This show billed itself as “a sort of live scrapbook of stories and snippets from the real experiences of the five performers”Beatrice Obe

Ordinarily, I do not give five-star reviews. Nothing is ever perfect, right? Well, Abby From Primeval Made Me Gay was not an ordinary production, and, if anything, it celebrated imperfection. It celebrated being human, and all the trials and triumphs that come with that condition. From the moment director and compere Billie Collins came on stage to introduce the show, it became apparent that it would be unique; the audience was asked to get to know each other, and the atmosphere shifted as everybody relaxed a little into their seats. I put away my notebook as I realised the usual rules would not apply here: I was not about to watch a theatre production, I was about to participate in an experience.

What an experience it was. I had not known what to expect from the show; I knew the concept, of course: a sort of live scrapbook of stories and snippets from the real experiences of the five performers. What I had not been prepared for was the rawness of it, the sheer authenticity. Despite knowing that the pieces were scripted and rehearsed, it felt as if each of the performers were genuinely telling their story for the first time. The show was well considered and presented, with the set, lighting, and projections all adding to the atmosphere of actually being in somebody’s living room chatting about their lives. Hearts were well and truly on sleeves throughout, and they did not seem vulnerable for it, but powerful. I cannot fully express how the performers made me feel. Every one told a beautiful story, every one made me mouth the word ‘wow’, all for very different reasons. The stories were interspersed with shorter extracts from the performers’ lives, such as footage of Amaya Holman’s early signs of stardom, and Leo Reich’s frankly side-splitting readings of some of his early poems (‘Yellowhammer’ was a true masterpiece).

It may sound cringey to say aloud, but though we are all human we are each individual, and that is something we should embrace

Kritarth Jha was first to come on stage, kicking things off with a reading of his first ever Facebook post, which was hilarious. Having been roused by Collins to make more noise than you might have thought 80 people capable of making, the room was ecstatic, and Jha kept the mood buoyant. Will Owen came on next with the first story, telling us with similar cheer why Billie Piper – aka Rose Tyler in Doctor Who – was important to him. Later in the show, we were treated to an extract of an episode Owen had written aged nine, which was as bizarrely amusing as you might expect. It may well have been because he reminded me of my brother (also a massive fan, also able to name all the episodes, also ready to discuss the Whoniverse at length), but Owen’s story touched me in a way that epitomises the “wholesomeness” the show’s production team had promised. Similarly, Jha’s story about his car was light-hearted yet sincere, and Holman’s tribute to Jacqueline Wilson as the tonic to the “devil” that was her younger self was all the funnier for its exaggerated performance.

The antidote to all this hilarity? Shameera Lin’s story, about her mother’s tireless support even in the hardest of times, came about a third of the way through and shook the jubilant room. Raucous laughter turned thick in the air as Lin told her story with tenderness and maturity. Later, Leo Reich’s story left many in tears; beautifully structured and delivered, Reich’s engagement with the struggles of homosexuality in an all-boys school was heartfelt and sensitive. The courage of these performers in laying themselves bare in front of an audience of “80 randos”, as Collins put it, was incredibly humbling. I am in awe of them, and they should be exceedingly proud of what they have done.


Mountain View

Abby From Primeval Made Me Gay preview

Abby From Primeval Made Me Gay was unlike anything I have seen in Cambridge; the tone was perfectly balanced between comedy and sincerity. We laughed, we cried, we cried with laughter. I feel incredibly lucky to have been there, and the standing ovation was testament to that shared feeling among the audience that the night had been special. Collins closed the show on an unapologetically uplifting note: it may sound cringey to say aloud, but though we are all human we are each individual, and that is something we should embrace. I didn’t want the show to end, but it did. The experience it began doesn’t have to. We are surrounded by people with fascinating stories just like the ones that were shared on stage, and I believe the entire audience left the theatre wanting to discover more of them.

Abby From Primeval Made Me Gay was on at the Corpus Playroom on Wednesday 25 April

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