Femme Ta Bouche
A Drunken Sailor
It’s not unusual to find a play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which has something to say about an issue, or on behalf of a group. Moral and social messaging are as much a part of theatre as greasepaint and stage-lights. But it’s usually a good idea to have something well thought out and pertinent to say, rather than just to say it.
Femme Ta Bouche tells the story of a drag artiste, the titular Femme, who suffers from colon cancer and is recuperating in her grandmother’s trailer in Arkansas. She’s desperate to get out of the confinement and decides she needs to tell her story; enlisting the help of a documentarian friend of Momo’s, they all head to a gay conversion therapy compound, where Femme spent time as a youth.
This is a strange play, not because of the subject matter, but rather because after a promising, if overlong, opening act, the rest of the play meanders around, literally, before coming to a conclusion that feels like it simply runs out of steam. It’s not boring, as there is still a lot of comedy, and Teddy Walker, who wrote, directed and stars as Femme, is legitimately funny and charismatic in the role.
The real issue is that the play spends a lot of time talking about issues, but not really coming to a point other than mentioning them being bad. Even in the climactic confrontation with Pastor Bingham, the abusive ideologue behind the camp doesn’t really seem too threatening or indeed phased by his facility being broken into. The whole escapade has a germ of a good idea at the root, but as yet, it’s far from grown into something majestic or meaningful.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan