Newcastle is currently hosting the Curious Festival, a celebration of LGBTQ+ art and culture that is being held across multiple venues in the region and runs till July 9th. Unfortunately, I’m away for most of it, so will miss most of the shows – it’s a strong programme, so definitely worth checking out.But I did manage to see *gender not included at Alphabetti the other night, and really enjoyed it. Alphabetti is the perfect venue for such a show: it’s intimate enough that a smaller show doesn’t feel drowned, it attracts a much broader (and queerer) spectrum of audience than your mainstream theatres, and its ramshackle charm never fails to feel welcoming.It felt like a perfect venue for *gender. The show itself was enormous fun – a lip synch look at gender and identity by a young non-binary performer, Melody Sproates. It felt very much what it was, a first-time show by a relatively untested creative, so for all its energy, it lacked polish, but sometimes there’s a joy in that in itself: in seeing something a little rough round the edges at the start of its journey, rather than smoothed out and slick. The fact that it was such a well-disposed audience gave the whole thing a lovely, party atmosphere, and there’s definitely a different vibe in the room when it feels like the audience is coming from a place of recognition and empathy, rather than difference and distance.It was such a hit it’s coming back for another night, and at just an hour long it’s more than worth your time. My full review is here: or you can buy tickets for the next performance (Saturday 13th July) here.