Trigger warning: strong references to rape, suicide and homophobia

FLAWED is staccato spoken word meets queer cabaret. It doesn't just throw out the rulebook on "How to be a boy", it tears it up, sets it on fire, then drowns it in blood.

When three painfully beautiful humans strutted onto stage in full fetish gear and started making out, I thought this show could be a bit of sexy entertainment. How wrong I was. Instead, creator and lead performer Bj McNeill paints a very personal story of growing up queer in homophobic Australia – and of the highs and lows of searching for self in the 'other'.

McNeill delivers a bumpy rollercoaster of queer experience, from joy and pleasure to self-harm and external attacks, from repression to freedom and back again. With FLAWED, McNeill offers a no holds barred examination of the kind of life that can be forced on 'others' when misogyny rules. When society forgets that "good values should be the pinnacle, but instead your entitlement is."

The kickass dancers break it down to a killer soundtrack ranging from Christina Aguilera to Incubus and Marilyn Manson. McNeill's narrative is confident but combative, and it can be insightful. Particularly moving are reflections on "drowning myself to breathe". There are some very funny moments too, like when they all strap on a stuffed dick and balls and thrust to Peaches' anthem Dick in the Air. But these moments are short-lived. It's no fairytale. The final scenes, alone and assaulted in the streets of Amsterdam, are a harsh a reminder of that.

In essence, FLAWED____like a b_y is a call to arms for expelling misogyny and embracing diversity, in all its beautiful chaos.

★★★1/2