When someone dies, one of the hardest things is the realisation that you will never see them again. There will be no new anecdotes, no shared experiences. When that person has been fundamental in shaping your identity, there is another factor to contend with. Who are you when that person is no longer here?
In Since U Been Gone, part of the Queer House’s double bill, Teddy Lamb examines who they have become since the deaths of two close friends. Clad in a white boiler suit with a shock of pastel pink hair, they take us back through their remembrances. It’s a vivid, nostalgic picture of early noughties pop culture.
From graveyard cigarettes and emo music to America’s Next Top Model, Lamb manipulates memories to fit their narrative. Nicol Parkinson underscores their teen movie-version of events on electric guitar, slipping snippets of millennial pop into the mix.
The spotlight is very much on Lamb in the here and now, their self-acceptance and defiance a result of these friendships and their devastating loss. It’s a purposeful pull of focus that yields mixed results. Lamb’s sparkle sometimes threatens to outshine that of the friends who made them. They are, as Lamb acknowledges, supporting roles in this story.
Billy Barrett’s direction brings out Lamb’s vulnerability as a performer, letting it burn through their bold, resilient exterior. It’s a deeply personal, exposed performance. Their journey to the non-binary, glittering badass they are today inexorably tied to the difficult long crawl through the mess that is grief.