Preview: Bi-Curious George and Other Sidekicks

Lucy Hutson, performing a play together with her dad next month that touches on everything from balloon modelling to mental health, says selling The Big Issue gave her an invaluable perspective

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Performance artist Lucy Hutson is no stranger to working with her dad. As a child she collected money while her father, performed Punch and Judy shows.

At Christmas Hutson was enlisted to help her dad, a children’s entertainer, also known as Professor the Amazing Addrian, sell balloon animals to make extra money for presents, and her father got Hutson her first job after leaving drama school, dressing up as the children’s character Curious George on board ferries from England to Holland.

Hutson moved to London at the age of 17 and decided she too wanted to pursue a career on the stage, but her work has taken a more political shape, tackling themes such as gender and capitalism.

But in the duo’s show Bi-Curious George and Other Sidekicks, the father and daughter merge their two forms, creating a play that explores their shared past – and differences.

“It’s a show where we try to mix our two genres together, but it’s for adults. It’s not for children,” says Hutson. “There’s loads of stuff like magic and balloon modelling, but there’s also other stuff about our relationship and how things have been different for me than they have for him, in our careers and in our lives. We talk a bit about how my mental health problems have affected our relationship, but also with a lot of fun, and puppets.”

Hutson recently published a book on her experiences with the mental health system. Everything In My Head At One Time In My Life, published by Unbound, was written from different mental health facilities over a period of three weeks, and features observations and essays by Hutson.

For two years she sold The Big Issue while living in squats in London, and says her time selling the magazine gave her a perspective that “would do everyone a bit of good to have”.

“For me The Big Issue was a fantastic gateway job,” she says. “It’s something you can do if you don’t have a clean set of clothes, or if you don’t have the confidence to walk into a job interview.

“It’s a way to make sure you have some money when you need it. And because I was squatting I didn’t need much money because I didn’t pay rent and I ate mainly out of the skips behind supermarkets.

“I don’t want to make eating out of skips and living in a squat sound like a terrible thing because it was a lifestyle that appealed to me. It was a community I understood and felt accepted in. I felt that from an anti-consumerist stance it felt quite ethical. It felt like we were living off the things that other people didn’t want.”

Hutson says although she and her dad have been working side by side for years, Bi-Curious George and Other Sidekicks is the first project they have collaborated on, and Hutson has encouraged her dad to engage in an artistic process previously unfamiliar to him.

“I think for him it was a bit of a shock. He thought we’d go into rehearsal and then write a play, and we didn’t do that at all. We did a day where we walked through all the places in my old town that meant something to both of us.

“I made him write about that and we had discussions and questions. I forced a guy in his sixties to talk about his feelings incessantly and I think he found it quite a struggle.

“It was very simple for him to show me what he does, because he does this trick and that skill, but the live arts side of the show was just me arguing with him about things and getting him to talk about things and write them down and then say them on stage.”

Bi-Curious George and Other Sidekicks, part of the New Queers on the Block series, is at Art B&B, Blackpool on 14 Sept

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