12 March 2018 | fcwemyss
Funny, Sometimes Shattering And Always Thoughtful
QUEERS is really riveting television.
It is a mini-series, but the episodes are not intertwined and can be watched in any order. It was made for the BBC for the fiftieth anniversary of the Homosexual Offences Act, which decriminalized sexual acts between men over 21 in Britain. Consisting of eight monologues spoken directly to the camera by different actors. Each monologue is set in a gay bar which appears to be one particular bar, the very existence of which, over the hundred-year course of the series, implies a continuum. Each episode is written by a different writer. But Mark Gattis directed each episode. There is a unity of tone.
The immediacy of each story is enhanced by the fact that each is told in the first-person by an actor looking directly at the camera, and hence at the viewer. The temptation is to say each of these is an interior monologue, but, in fact, the actors are talking to us. This is actually very novel. (Hamlet's soliloquy, as a rule, is performed as if he is talking to himself, even as he scans the faces looking at him from the audience. But the characters here really are addressing us.
I have two personal favorites here: "I'd Miss You Alice" and "The Man On The Platform." Beautiful performances are featured throughout this project, but every stop is pulled in these two episodes.
Of the eight stories, two are told by women, and the irony is not lost. The Homosexual Offences Act specifically dealt with men, but there are two sexes, and 1967 was a watershed year in Britain for anyone, whether a gay male, a lesbian or straight ally.
Inasmuch as each story is told by one person, we do not see people interacting. This does not mean Queers is without dramatic tension. It is sometimes a shattering viewing experience, quite often funny, always thoughtful and, above all, truthful.