They Took Me To A Queer Bar Review


Sydney’s queer culture is a series of paradoxes; hosting one of the world’s largest Mardi Gras festivals, whilst also being a capital city in one of the last Western countries to legalise marriage equality.

Tommy Misa in They Took Me To A Queer Bar, 2022. Photo by Joseph Mayers ©

As gentrification continues to take aim at clubbing venues, queer bars and clubs are definitely not exempt. Major iconic venues such as Oxford Street’s Midnight Shift, and Melbourne’s biggest queer club, The Greyhound Hotel, have shut their doors within the last 5 years. It is clear that it is more important than ever to celebrate and protect queer spaces and even more so queer spaces run by queer people of colour, which for so long have provided a space of safety and self-expression for the LGBTQIA+ community.

They Took Me To A Queer Bar, created and performed by multi-disciplinary artist Tommy Misa, does exactly that. Tommy tells their journey of self-discovery and acceptance from locations ranging from a therapist’s office to the toilet, the dressing room, and the dance floor of a queer bar. They use a plethora of queer performance modes to invite the audience into the bar and immerse them in the atmosphere, which was further helped by the brilliant sound design of Jonny Seymour.

Tommy’s ability to move throughout the characters provided a darkly funny and authentic performance that held the audience without becoming confusing. The humour interspersed within the sometimes heartbreaking moments reminded us of the journey of acceptance and belonging that many queer artists have been on. The connection between performer and audience was strong; it felt like the show was a trip down memory lane for many of the audience members.

Tommy Misa in They Took Me To A Queer Bar, 2022. Photo by Joseph Mayers ©

The visual imagery of the performance surprised me – it was unlike many one-person shows that can feel like watching an interview or a trail of thoughts that don’t seem to have a concise end. The crafting of They Took Me To A Queer Bar allowed for beautiful moments of physicality that supported the dialogue. It particularly highlighted the raw and tender moments within the story that reminded us of the barriers and prejudice queer artists and spaces continue to face. In contrast, the drag-style performances really brought a sense of celebration and were particularly theatrically engaging. At times it did feel slightly disjointed as we jumped between locations, and there was a reliance on blackouts to help space out the story, but this does not take away from the brilliant storytelling and performance.

They Took Me To A Queer Bar is a love story from Tommy to queer venues and spaces that have helped shape queer artists’ journies of self-discovery. The show also carries an important tone of remembrance that asks us to not only mourn the losses within the queer community but also celebrate queer lives and the cultural impact of queerness.

4 Stars.

Ellie, 20, [she/her]

Red Line’s They Took Me To A Queer Bar played at the Old Fitz from the 6th until the 10th of September.