The room shimmers with sweat, haze, and citrus. Rachael Young and marikiscrycrycry’s bodies shift and sway, skin glossy and shining under Nao Nagai’s hot pink lights.
Let me tell you a secret. There is a room throbbing with electricity in Summerhall Old Lab at 15:45 every day. OUT, originally performed at Edinburgh Fringe in 2017, is Young’s live art and dance exploration of blackness and queerness, and there is a glistening power to it which snakes its way inside you. You feel it even before you walk through the doors. Maybe it’s the loud dancehall that plays as you take your seat, which pulses through your skin, the beat snaking down to your now-tapping foot, or maybe it’s Young and marikiscrycrycry’s writhing, undulating bodies, occasionally in synchronicity, occasionally not, which demand your eyes on them – but whoops and cheers erupt from the audience even before front of house close the doors. “Yes,” I say loudly, feeling the word bubble out of my throat before I realise what’s happening. OUT inches itself into your body, filling you up, fleshing you out. Here’s the trick. Be porous with OUT. Let it work its magic.
“Fuck the modesty,” goes the track. Young and marikiscrycrycry slowly, sinuously extend their arms out and prowl over the dancefloor. It could be a shrug. An offering. A welcoming. A challenge. All four. Here is a lesson in expansion, in taking up space, in relishing it. Here are two black queer bodies with chests opened out and wide, chins jutting out, eyes clear and focused. Here is a lesson in designed defencelessness. Young and marikiscrycrycry cultivate this space so that their vulnerability can flourish. There is space on that pink dancefloor. You imagine it’s for others to join.
A vile homophobic speech plays, again and again. Then it cuts, and spins back, and all of a sudden, it’s a beat. It’s chopped up, cut down, mixed up and re-appropriated. Hands beat on chests, to the rhythm, a sort of warped crossing of the self. They are protecting themselves from the bile but they are also allowing it in. They embody it, swallow it, spit it out again.
They begin to peel oranges. One, two, three each. Four, five, six. How many minutes has it been? The audience shifts. They keep peeling, slapping each one on their thigh before they begin. Ten minutes? There is a lapse in attention. One woman checks her phone and the cool blue light looks stark opposite the warmth onstage. Your body closes in on itself incrementally. Your hands fold under your armpits, you cross your legs. And then. And then. When you think it’s too late. They cut the peeled oranges into segments, and the acrid-sweet smell cuts clean through the hot air, and they offer them to the audience, and your chest opens once more. People hold out both hands, palms up, faces greedily open, waiting for a blessing. Orange segments are bestowed upon us wordlessly. We eat them together, as loudly and deliciously as possible. Young slurps hers, slaps it onto her cheeks and mouth until the juice runs down her front, sticky juice enmeshing with the sweat. marikiscrycrycry chews the pith and spits pips onto the floor. You leave the space after an hour and it feels as if your chest cavity has expanded two inches. It’s an honour to take communion with these artists. It’s an aching joy and desperate privilege to be in their room.
OUT is on at Summerhall until 25th August. More info and tickets here.