Bottom @ Summerhall
A funny, scrappy and deeply moving show exploring gay sexual politics and the anxiety of online dating.
Bottom begins with Willy Hudson shuffling on stage in a pink towel as if he’s just realised mid-shower that his one-man show is about to begin. Sheepishly he asks an audience member to fetch his pants (nifty dino print) from under a seat in the second row. If you haven’t already guessed, vulnerability is the key word in this funny and poignant performance.
Hudson’s show is a lively mosaic. Once decent, he nimbly skips time, space and storytelling form to explore questions of his queer identity. He laments that the gay community is plagued by the same patriarchal bullshit invented by straight people: namely, if you’re the person in the relationship being penetrated you’re likely to be the one getting screwed over in life too. Hudson certainly feels this way when his boss at his bar job skims off his meager pay packet when takings are down.
Direct storytelling blends with whimsical songs about Tinder bios played on a pink ukulele and a goofy dance number set to Beyoncé’s Love on Top that begins joyously and ends in a sweaty panic. The spine of the show is Hudson’s third date with a guy he genuinely likes. The only problem: this dreamboat is a bottom too, which means Hudson might need to step outside the box he’s been labelled by the world if he’s ever going to be happy.
Bottom is a little frantic, with Hudson’s adrenalin thrillingly palpable. A few cracks in his command of the narrative seem to be showing, but these moments of trepidation, whether genuine early-in-the Fringe jitters or feigned for effect, actually enrich the show’s themes. Hudson’s tales of performance anxiety and identity crises wouldn’t be half as endearing if slickly told. Here, scrappiness is a virtue and as a performer, Hudson is endlessly appealing. Bottom or top, his object of affection would be mad not to text back for date number four.