Belinda is an eccentric, experimental exploration of queer feelings of insufficiency and imposter syndrome within society’s current measures. Framed within the idea of a tarot reading, the performance is itself fluid in form. It scrutinises metaphors and utilises structure and words to successfully muddle and blur: queering the discussion.
Written and devised by Bold Mellon Collective (composed of Amy Mitchell, Emilia Nurmukhamet and Maddie Mellon), this show feels personal and nurtured, as the writing beautifully flows in and out of conversation, script, and improvisation or ‘non-acting’ elements. Performed by two thirds of the collective, Mitchell and Nurmukhamet create the feeling of the audience really being part of the discussion.
The exploration of metaphor occurs within multiple components of the performance. Set, lighting and projection use mess, colour and distortion to indicate the subtle changes throughout the show. Music is also used at times and complements the dramatic moments where it happens. These encompassing choices feel intentional to further the narrative, and it was an exciting journey home unpicking all the unspoken elements to search for more metaphors sprinkled throughout.
Belinda drives itself beyond the boundaries of typical structure, and enters ‘reality’, with actors breaking
the fourth wall to speak as themselves. Although an interesting outlook and metaphor for how queer relationships often break society norms, this as a moment feels self-indulgent as the show is spoken about within itself. Perhaps this element could become a section with fewer words, until the ending lines that drive the moral home are spoken. I am also intrigued by the purpose of the character of Belinda in this version of the show as in an earlier incarnation of the play this role seemed to stand enough significance to merit being the titular character, but is only briefly mentioned in this version. It is possible that the show has transgressed from its starting point.
The themes of Belinda all fall under the category of queer feelings of inadequacy in a heterosexually-predominant society. Moments of the show – and especially its structure – drive home the nature of queer relationships: rushed, blurred lines; being a secret or being used. My favourite moment is when the show halts and the actors ask the audience “shall we kiss for you?”: a moment too often seen in portrayal of femme queer relationships; used for pleasure and voyeuristic. This is expertly woven in, catching the audience almost red-handed and prompting them into agreeing: so falling into the very trap that the show explores. When not profitable, queer people are left in the shadows.
The show’s nuance is exciting and breaks the boundaries of topics unspoken. Belinda is engaging and does feel like a ‘first time’ and ‘one-time’ experience, much as is talked about in the dialogue. In a day and age that is slowly making it harder for queer people to exist as truly themselves, this play tackles the issue with open arms.
Written by: Amy-Rose Edlyn and Emilia Nurmukhamet
Sound Design by: Vika Vinnikova and Dear Annie.
Lighting Design by: Venus Raven
Co-devised, developed and produced by: Bold Mellon Collective
Belinda has completed its current run at Camden People’s Theatre. Further information about the show can be found on the company’s website here.