Review: June

By Milly Wicks

Writing and performing a one-man show is no easy feat, yet the team behind ’s June made it look effortless. June follows Billy, an ex-drag queen trying to reclaim his past glory. The play explores his desire to return to his former glamorous self through a desperate attempt to do one final performance. We follow Billy through all aspects of his life; from his interactions with others, to his mundane job at Tesco and culminating in his final drag performance. 

The script is evocative and incredibly powerful in its writing. I can only commend Moeed’s creativity, his natural flair for playwriting is evident through the quality of this show. The solo narrative creates a real intimacy with the audience as we grow to learn more and more about Billy. We are seamlessly taken from place to place through the natural and organic writing – it truly feels like we are with Billy, seeing the world through his internal monologue, which builds a real understanding of his character.

The creative vision for the show was clear and incredibly well executed from director Maddie Hurley. Moments of sheer emotion were touching and felt incredibly real and authentic. In particular, the characterisation of Billy, specifically when tackling why he wanted to revive June, was handled perfectly. The realistic and minimal set not only framed the performance well, but also created a poignant image of the life Billy leads, which really added to the audience’s experience and engagement with the character. From the moment the lights came up, I was engrossed in this performance. 

Moments of sheer emotion were touching and felt incredibly real and authentic

What made this show a true joy to watch was the performance by Stephen Ledger, playing Billy. This role is not only one that is particularly difficult by the sheer nature of it being a one-man show, but Billy is also a highly nuanced and emotive character, and Ledger executes it perfectly. Being both an authentic and touching display, he led the audience expertly through Billy’s daily life.

In fact, Ledger’s range as an actor was fully on show in what felt a truly intimate and highly engaging performance. I could not fault his acting one bit, especially when at points he was dealing with a particularly rowdy Van Mildert Bar, which he addressed in a hilarious and endearing way on stage. His shift in physicality to be more fluid and natural when portraying June is effortless and particularly well done. He displayed Billy fully embracing the choreography (by Georgia Malkin,) which momentarily showed a glimpse of his former self. 

Ledger also navigated the emotional volatility of the character well. There are moments that are really quite funny, specifically the commentary about describing some of the other characters he interacts with. Yet, these moments are particularly well contrasted with some more melancholic points, where Billy is reminiscing on the past, whilst unsure of where the future is heading. Being isolated on stage throughout, Ledger truly shines and brings the excellence of the script to life. His performance was, simply put, outstanding. I wholeheartedly congratulate Ledger for delivering a professional performance of what must be one of the most difficult roles to play this DDF.

In fact, Ledger’s range as an actor was fully on show in what felt a truly intimate and highly engaging performance

What tied off this performance was the lighting and set, which really suited the honest nature of the play. Being stripped back and organic, the cluttering of the set and use of space was exceptional. However, specifically earlier in the play, the blackouts to change scenes sometimes felt like it broke the tension and hindered the immersion of the audience. Additionally, the pacing towards the middle-end part of the show seemed to slow, which reduced the impact of some of the more emotive monologues. But, I would like to emphasise these were minor components of what was a beautiful piece of theatre, and neither of these heavily distracted from the sheer excellence displayed on stage.

Overall, the entire team should be immensely proud. The dynamic nature of this show makes it one not to miss, and Moeed can only be praised for creating such a wonderful play that tackles and explores difficult topics and narratives with ease.

Image credit: Sightline Productions

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