Can you fall in love with someone if you don’t know their gender? That’s the question posed in Boy Stroke Girl when Peter meets the sexually ambiguous Blue. The play is written and directed by Ian Dixon Potter and has been performed at Brighton Fringe and Tristan Bates Theatre before coming to Etcetera Theatre in Camden for a short run.
The play starts with Peter and Blue meeting in a coffee shop and bonding over a love of Dr Who. We follow them as their mutual attraction develops, challenging Peter’s own identity and his relationships with friends and family. Blue is an artist who refuses to accept labels, even of gender, but how long can Blue’s gender remain unknown as the relationship develops and how much does it matter to the couple and those around them?
The refusal to conform to gender stereotypes means Blue is always in a position of power; conversations always come back to the question of gender, the very issue Blue allegedly wants to avoid. Is the pressure to conform to society’s expectations too much to ask? However liberal we think we are, can we really defy the ultimate label of gender?
The cast of four actors do a good job of presenting Blue and Peter, their friends and family and their reactions to this unconventional relationship. Blue’s androgyny is dealt with well and we’re unsure, until the very end, whether Blue is male or female. The play makes the audience question their own assumptions and judgements as the characters question theirs.
Boy Stroke Girl asks a lot of questions and will leave you checking the labels we all apply to those around us. This is an interesting story well told and deserves a longer run.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
BOY STROKE GIRL plays at the Etcetera Theatre until 25 September 2016