'Eat the Rich!' (2022) reminds us why we need creative queer spaces in Aberdeen
Updated: Apr 21
A Review of Friday's show at the Lemon Tree
by Rory Buccheri
Brought to you by Aberdeen Performing Arts and Sanctuary Queer Arts, Eat the Rich! dubbed itself as a 'climate justice cabaret'. Yet, it brought on stage so much more than that. It was a powerful reminder of why we need creative queer spaces thriving in the city.
The show at the Lemon Tree on Friday 15th of April was packed with an enthusiastic audience, and performers from all backgrounds, from first-timers to regular gig performers.
I was impressed to see the great variety of artists on stage, and how each of them presented their unique take on what climate justice means.
There couldn't have been a better opening than Seimi Rowan's powerful music. Their lyrics dig into the raw disappointment of climate change, the empathy governments lack towards immigration, and the fight to protect future ecosystems.
In my personal leaderboard of artists, Seimi sits next to the extraordinarily talented singers songwriters Jamie McCormick, and Lake Montgomery, whom I met for the very first time at this gig.
I have seen Jamie on stage many, many times, and the feeling of being in for a breath-taking performance is always there. I have heard them playing the guitar, the piano, and sing with accompaniment or acapella. Whatever the instrument, their voice is always unforgettable, and the lyrics ring true to many: 'be a butterfly', 'throw away the mask'... It's a chant for individual freedom, for personal and collective liberation. They are often songs about coming out, yet their message to be true to oneself and each another speaks to us all.
I was equally struck by Edinburgh-based Lake Montgomery - a wonderful singer-songwriter, raising her singing voice on intersectional issues related with climate justice, such as racism and inequality.
The line-up was nothing short of fantastic, while still offering the less experienced performers the chance to jump on stage, and ultimately keep improving.
You can see it from first-time performers like drag king Richard Hascock that, although they have a long way to go, they are fierce and passionate enough to come on stage and entertain a full room. Kudos to Richard for bringing their original song 'Eat the Rich', in honour of the show!
Finally, a good presenter does a lot in terms of building the right mood. The night was presented by Jordy Deelight, a non-binary artist and presenter with a bubbly personality and a truly infectious laughter.
A truly great feature of the show was the presence of the BSL interpreter. There are often BSL interpreters at His Majesty's Theatre, showing the true commitment of Aberdeen Performing Arts to always be accessible.
Friday night's show really made me nostalgic.
Among many other fond memories of queer gigs and drag shows I attended in the past, Eat the Rich! reminded me of one Aberdeen queer space in particular: Fruit Salad.
Taking the shape of performance nights, Fruit Salad used to offer the same kind of opportunity for poets, musicians, drag performers, singers, and comedians to be on stage, share their amazing work, and be in a safe queer space.
What happened to Fruit Salad?
Fruit Salad organised a series of themed performance nights at Spin from April 2019 to February 2020. Although not long-lived, they gave many a chance to perform their work on stage and feel like they were part of a larger queer collective.
Fruit Salad's last gig happened in February 2020. With the pandemic hitting and the organisers relocating, I am guessing there isn't much of the original management left.
I attempted to get in touch with them, but I received no answer.
Now, forget about Cheerz. This used to be the space to go if you wanted a safe, queer space to either share your art or enjoy other people's works.
If you enjoyed Eat the Rich! , chances are you would find yourself thriving if Fruit Salad ever made it back again.
There were talks once about reviving that, and I often wonder what happened there. But there is a broader message I want to get across here...
Make Aberdeen Queer Again
As many creatives will know, having a space where to share your art is everything. As many queer creatives will know, that space is invaluable to meet people who have been through the same stuff as you, and are likely to share the lenses you use to look at the world.
Shows like Eat the Rich, and the dearly departed Fruit Salad, make an important case about why we should keep fostering queer creative spaces in Aberdeen.
First of all, Aberdeen deserves a queer space for creatives to come together, regardless of the final product. Whether it be poetry or music, painting or comedy.
Second, because as this gig has proven, these are spaces where vital issue about our society and environment are tackled. Yes: they are spaces where you can have fun, where creature from the club FRAN.K can dance covered in Buckfast and give us all a cathartic, liberating show.
But also, they are spaces where song, dance and drag can inspire us to do better, where we can support collectives such as Futuros Indigenas that are working to preserve the environment and indigenous lands, and where we can start appreciating that queer means intersectional.
Having a creative, queer scene in Aberdeen is much more than meeting up for drinks (absolutely great) and going clubbing together (still, amazing).
It is a way to empower the arts and its artists. It is a way to fill the city with intersectional, queer, emotive, inspiring work.