Fierce Festival 2019 / Birmingham, UK / 15 – 20 October

Fierce Press Gang: Good Boy

Simplicity on stage is sometimes much more effective than a visual bombardment of lighting and effects, it can speak to audience with a truth and honesty that is breath-taking. A beautiful example of this is a piece of work titled, Good Boy by Joseph Mercier which I saw at the Fierce Festival Pilot Event on Thursday the 29th of March.

The performance was part of a set of three short performances taking place in the main theatre, we had already seen Slap Talk by Action Hero and Commonwealth by a smith and didn’t quite know what to expect next…the expectation of Fierce Festival has always been that anything can happen.

After some time a technician entered the stage carrying a microphone, complete with stand, and a portable CD player and placed both on stage- he then left smiling to laughs and applause from the crowd. We waited. A young man, dressed simply in a white polo shirt and jeans, bare footed entered the stage- Joseph Mercier. He bent and pressed a button on the CD player.

Joseph’s performance was exquisitely simple, a series of personal monologues presented from a microphone in the centre of the stage interspersed with small sequences of dance. He discussed issues of homosexuality and how this makes him feel like an outsider from society but didn’t care; he likes being an outsider and being separate. Joseph rebels against boundaries and openly questions authority by speaking about his sexuality and sexual experiences openly. A woman sat behind me repeatedly gasped loudly throughout and although Joseph’s work was shocking it was also incredibly refreshing. There was no disguise.

The Pilot event programme stated that: ‘The performance is an ode to French writer and radical thinker Jean Genet and his position as an outcast of society. Using images from Genet’s wring and his short film ‘Chant d’Amour’, Joseph dances a solo that explores Genet’s profound ability to question authority and to find alternative ways of living, thinking and loving.’

I was completely drawn into the quiet rebellion of Good Boy and was able to connect to it because Joseph let the words speak for themselves. This was brave, impressive and deeply moving. and I hope to see his more of his work again soon.