Review: Queerway at Wales Millennium Centre

Launching the new Cabaret season of programming at Wales Millennium Centre is Queerway, a collection of soulful and feel-good real life stories from queer people in Rhondda Cynon Taf, by Leeway Productions.

From the cheers, whoops, and firm nodding of heads from the appreciative audience, we could tell that the narratives told on stage were the lived stories of many in the audience too. As a queer community, myself included, we have all encountered life’s ups and downs through the lens of identity. Knowing that your story isn’t the only one, that we are part of a wider community, gives us all power in solidarity. That is the essence of Queerway.

Finding lesbian love in your fifties, and the love of a mother for her trans child are some of the stories covered, and another particular favourite for myself and my partner was Anthem, a spectacular mash-up of songs and lyrics from our formative years. Judy Garland, Madonna, the Village People, Kylie, Lizzo, and even Jennifer Coolidge all feature in this celebration of vocabulary unique to the queer community. A modern-day polari, if you like, a secret and powerful language to find strength and support.

The show is delivered spectacularly by a talented young cast, the whole audience in awe. Directed by Luke Hereford, written and composed by Geraint Owen, with Anne-Marie Piazza, Harrison Scott-Smith, Kate Ellis and Ren Simons on stage.

It is also worth mentioning the way the Welsh language is woven so naturally and easily into the narrative: a reflection of real life in a modern Wales. It also shows the duality and mutuality present in all of our identities. Welsh-speaking, English-speaking. The ranges of sexuality and gender. Who we love and how we love. It offers a real-life view on modern Wales, told by the very people who live here in her communities.

“Heb ail-ddiffinio ‘gwladgarwyr tra mâd’ , bydd yr enfys yn hedfan dros y wlad” is a particularly strong lyric from the performance — “Without redefining ‘her fine patriots’, the rainbow will fly over the land” — recognising the queer community isn’t a step against Welsh culture, it is a step for Welsh culture. We are all gwladgarwyr — patriots — and Wales is an inclusive land for all.

The future of Wales and Welsh culture is more than safe in the hands of these amazing young people. Llongyfarchiadau, huns!

Queerway is on at Wales Millennium Centre’s Weston Studio 3 and 4 February 2023. Tickets from £18 available online here or from the Wales Millennium Centre Box Office. The show then tours to Grand Pavillion, Porthcawl; The Factory, Porth; Theatr Soar, Merthyr; Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.