Kicking off with a triumphant vodka shot from a moon cup – Splintered isn’t here to mess around. Written and directed by Trinidadian, Emily Aboud, this is a celebration and commentary on the light and shade of being queer within Caribbean culture, where being gay is outlawed.
Splintered is inspired by real stories from queer Caribbean women, featuring recordings from Aboud’s interviews with them. It plays with a variety of forms as the show takes on a cabaret structure, but breaks into Caribbean carnival dance, and the occasional gameshow format. Although erratic in tone, our trio: Alice Vilanculo, Melissa Saint, and Chante Faucher are charismatic, funny women who take us through each narrative with real confidence and energy.
Some real highlights include a Cell Block Tango theme, where the trio share moments people realised they were gay. Amongst hilarious whisperings of ‘scissoring’ and ‘lipstick’, we are met with the dark undertones of homophobia within Caribbean culture. Similarly, Vilanculo’s cabaret performance, adorning a sparkly red jacket, dancing and caressing a blow-up phone, plays with the idea of her prepping to come out to her traditional, Trinidadian mother. These are key moments where the play succeeds in balancing the tone.
However, some concepts are less fleshed out. Their exploration of the impact of religion on Caribbean culture and how it has influenced homophobic views, is interesting, yet it’s such a complex topic, they struggle to cover it in much detail. There’s a real skill in their comedic commentary of the Caribbean queer experience, and there are some brilliant educational moments around the origins of carnival, and and how queer it is, considering heterosexual men dress up in drag and no one bats an eyelid. It just feels like the structure needs some final polishing.
A bold, fun and experimental piece of queer theatre that just requires some stronger foundations.