Take the Crown, Basement Theatre, 11 February 2020: Theatre Review

Bing-Bong. Welcome aboard Queer Air… Sarah Kidd went along for one wild and bumpy ride on opening night full of laugh-out-loud moments and deeply personal exposes of the world seen through queer eyes.


Originally a concept workshopped with the Red Leap Theatre Company in 2018, an excerpt of piece recently winning Best Actor and Best Writer at the Short and Sweet Festival in 2019, Take the Crown is a breath of fresh, honest air.

Performed by The Others Club, a media production company created by writer and producer Todd Waters four years ago, Take The Crown is a devised piece of theatre that indeed entertains, many a riotous laugh out loud moment not only included but encouraged; more importantly however is the fact that it also challenges the audience while simultaneously educating them by providing a glimpse inside the individual worlds of five young queer performers.

With our fictional flight being “powered solely by the number of people offended by the contents” on offer, Take The Crown begins with a little tongue in cheek, some sassy one liners and our performers playing some well-loved games amongst themselves that begin to illustrate many of the issues facing members of the LGBTQIA+ community today. Do they feel their queerness is accepted in the workplace, or do they hide it for fear of repercussion? Are they constantly scrutinised for their personal choice of pro-nouns? As a queer person of colour, is their marginalisation by society compounded even further?

Each member of the cast which includes Tatiana Daniels, Kierron Diaz-Campbell, Ravi Gurunathan, Carla Newton as well as Todd Waters himself bring forth their own take on the world through queer eyes, their coming out tales that are tinged with both joy and sadness told during a beautifully tangible section of the performance. With the theatre seating set around a white silken aisle, our Queer Air cabin crew are provided the opportunity to connect with the audience on a far more personal level; this simple but clever piece of design integral to the devastatingly human stories they each must tell, the intimacy of the setting allowing for organic emotional responses rather than those that are manufactured.

Pop hits such as 50 CentsCandy Shop’ and sound bites from both Nicki Minaj and Billy Porter punctuate the performance, as does the wonderful rendition of ‘Fever’ by Carla Newton and the physicality of the choreographed piece by Ravi Gurunathan to ‘Sex & Sadness’ by Madi Sipes & The Painted Blue; music and cultural icons holding as much importance to members of the queer community as they do to others. There is however an underlying message that comes with the displays and language of queer culture. It is theirs and theirs alone; it is not to be appropriated for the sake of amusement by those outside the community. Be conscious of your digestion, of your words, of your actions.

While performed by youthful cast members, there can be no present, nor a future without a past, acknowledgements of those who have come before them to express their own queerness in the public forum respectfully given a platform within the piece; Diaz-Campbells’ reading of an excerpt from the poem ‘You’re Asexual, But Sex is What Makes Us Human’ and Daniels outstanding vignette from Leslie Feinbergs’  ‘Stone Butch Blues’ subtlety elevating the overall production.

But it is indeed the finale that makes Take The Crown unmissable viewing, the casts impassioned performance conveying all the hurt, the shame, the violence, the exclusions and many more injustices that the LGBTQIA+ community have had to suffer at the hands of not only society, but governments and at times from their own.

They alone carry that.

Take The Crown is indeed loud and unapologetic and so it should be, by doing so the cast take the power back into their own hands, their request to be allowed the space to not only discover and explore but define their own queerness one that should be granted – without question.

Take the Crown is playing at Basement Theatre, Auckland through 15 February. Tickets available HERE.

~Sarah Kidd