The Faggots and their Friends

Review: The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions at Manchester International Festival / HOME ★★★★★

An exquisite, revolutionary riot with a cavalcade of queer talent calling out the need to fight for queer joy and not to assimilate

The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions | Wed 28 Jun – Sun 2 Jul | From £14

Based on the 1977 cult book by Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta, ‘The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions’ offers a radical queer rewrite to world history. The Faggots represent utopian ideals, in contrast with the ultra-violence of ‘the men’. The dystopian satire of our real history feels like The Handmaid’s Tale wrapped up in a call-to-arms, much like Naomi Alderman’s novel and 2023 Amazon TV hit ‘The Power’. The key line that hits you and repeats throughout the work is ‘It’s been a long time since the last revolutions and the faggots and their friends are still not free’. This production is a searing reminder – so timely in pride month – that the LGBTQIA community is not universally, and that there is a long way to go to erase the risk of fascist forces creeping back in.

The assembled cast for this 100 minute joy is unparalleled. From the otherworldly movement and performance of Yandass, to artist and national treasure Kit Green’s incredible stage presence; the individual shines but the collective is what matters, echoing the themes of the show. The piece is a triumph of music theatre (that is, theatre with music) and makes operatic performance accessible, showing its raw power to call for change. The songs straddle difficult themes, from mental health to the importance of solidarity, sharing and caring to oppose brutalism and war. The cast of fifteen’s musical talents cannot be understated, playing everything from a vintage harpsichord to improvised drums – in a poignant moment, the whole ensemble each play a violin!

The biggest musical moments came in the form of a crowd sing-a-long led by Kit Green, and a song channelling the power of queer community. The run time perhaps felt a little long, and a faulty boombox – impeccably dealt with – may have contributed to this, but for the most part the time flew by with rousing big moments and softer intimate ones in equal measure. Everyone in this powerful performance collective gets a chance to shine, and there’s a really variety of artistry on display: from opera, to comedy gold, to jaw-dropping dance.

The show’s urgent message deserves to live beyond Manchester International Festival and would be right at home in theatres like the National Theatre, the Royal Court, and – dare we suggest it – even the Royal Opera House. School children post Section 28 need to see this, and so does everyone else!

The Faggots and Their Friends is a powerful reminder to keep fighting for queer joy and resist living the status quo in a heavenly punk opera for all