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A Boy Named Sue review at C Nova, Edinburgh – ‘powerful but flawed’

A Boy Named Sue A Boy Named Sue, C Nova
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In A Boy Named Sue, author Bertie Darrell uses a trio of monologues to address the decline of community in the gay world. His abrasive writing style vividly captures the frustration of the three characters, who gradually turn to each other for help and comfort. We meet Louie, a vulnerable runaway teen in search of his identity. Locked in a surreal glass tower, Ian has been forced to watch the gay community he once loved become a virtual reality of chat-rooms and online hook-ups. Then there is Sid, living as Sue, but suffering the psychological horrors of abuse while coping with the physical deterioration of his body through AIDS.

Initially three separate lone voices, Darrell’s vividly fleshed out characters gradually interact for further dramatic effect. This helps to clarify the storylines, notably those of Louie and Ian, but tends to dilute the impact of the piece as a whole. The fractured, individual stories work well, particularly Jack Harrold’s acerbic turn as Sue, whose journey is underscored with a desperate vulnerability. Claudia Lee’s simple direction cuts to the chase, capturing the rhythm and urgency of Darrell’s writing but the final message is blurred.

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Powerful message, supported by emotive writing but flawed by a muddled structure