And The Rest Of Me Floats is a fascinating and important piece of theatre, presented by Outbox Theatre. Devised in-house by the company – who represent the trans, non-binary, lesbian and gay communities – the play interrogates and explores the “messy business of gender” in the contemporary world.
Weaving together autobiography, music and stand-up, And The Rest Of Me Floats moves between choreographed movements, pop songs, short scenes and monologues. It moved effortlessly but effectively between the hilarious and the heart-breaking, moments of obvious pain with those of kindness and acceptance. Finding comfort in transatlantic online friendships, the invasiveness of medical language, coming out to parents or grandparents: these are the topics, explored directly, brutally (in the case of more difficult issues) but sweetly (for the more uplifting scenes). Anyone from the LGBT+ community will be able to relate to aspects of the show, from coming out to being endlessly questioned about your personal life; trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals will feel a particular resonance with several scenes.
Outbox describe the show as “bold, exciting and experimental”: it is indeed captivating but doesn’t really build to a climax; its experimental structure is effective but felt lacking. A certain incoherence meant some of the scenes – which were nonetheless powerful – felt out of place, rushed or forced in. The one framing device – when all the performers would chant numbers (presumably ages) and short autobiographical snippets – didn’t develop over the course of the play. This could have been used to give the structure an order of sorts, moving chronologically from the past up to now.
The entire cast was fantastic throughout but a couple of moments stood out: Tamir Amar Pettet running against a plastic sheet was, visually, by far the most captivating and enchanting part of the show; Yasmin Zadeh’s monologue about their childhood was sweet and incredibly effective; Josh Enright talking about wearing dresses was poignant yet funny. Two parallel scenes of drama – a trans couple getting ready for a wedding and coming out as trans to a Grindr hookup – were perfectly acted by Barry Fitzgerald, Elijah W Harris, Emily Joh Miller, Miiko Toiviainen, and wonderfully directed by Ben Buratta. Miiko Toiviainen demonstrates a wonderful singing voice, singing Bird Gerhl by Anthony and the Johnsons.
The lighting and sound design – from Jess Bernberg and Dominic Kennedy, respectively – were subtle but creative, making the most of the otherwise rather limited space. Both were used particularly well in a scene where the cast undressed and redressed onstage, corralled and exposed with a spotlight.
The ending was probably my favourite bit: each of the performers took turns to share an embarrassing truth or a joke about their LGBT+ experience or a slightly startling story or fact. These seemed improvised, with the cast laughing at each other’s contributions: it was fun, funny and yet incredibly insightful. Discussion about serious issues doesn’t always need to be deadly serious: giving a voice to those who need one, who have often been denied one, is sometimes more than enough. They finished with a cover of Closer by Tegan and Sara, everyone singing along and inviting the audience to join onstage and dance along: “I want you close, I want you, / I won’t treat you like you’re typical.”
And The Rest Of Me Floats is on at Mill Co. Rose Lipman Building, N1 5SQ at 7.30pm, 16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd September. Tickets are available here.
Watch the trailer below: