Review: Jubilee, Lyric Hammersmith

Punk becomes very hard-going in a raucous but overlong Jubilee at the  Lyric Hammersmith

“Welcome to “Jubilee”. An iconic film most of you have never even heard of, adapted by an Oxbridge twat for a dying medium, spoiled by millennials, ruined by diversity, and constantly threatening to go all interactive. You poor fuckers.”

There’s a sense of Chris Goode’s adaptation of the 1978 Derek Jarman film Jubilee getting out ahead of itself as one of its key characters delivers the above speech pretty much as we begin. But no amount of self-awareness can give this production enough life to sustain its punkish attitude over a bloated running time.

Running at a reconfigured Lyric Hammersmith (design by Chloe Lamford) after playing the Royal Exchange late last year, there’s a definite statement of intent from the very beginning as the queer inhabitants of a squat take up residence. Cocks are waved, breasts are bared, queens are transported (Lizzie One Point Zero) and new kweens established, Travis Alabanza’s Amyl Nitrate.

And in this contemporary world (a set of to-the-minute references leave us in no doubt of that), these punks fight against a world that is fighting against them, giving as good as they get. Police brutality squares up against murderous one-night-stands, commercial consumerism battles high art, the past versus the present (versus the future).  

But despite the spirited efforts of a cast including Toyah Willcox (who appeared in the original film), Lucy Ellinson and Temi Wilkey, it all just feels unfocused. Over two and a half hours (and on benches that aren’t necessarily the most comfortable), there’s only so much raging against the system you can take when it seems to amount to, well, nothing much.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Tristram Kenton
Jubilee is booking at the Lyric Hammersmith until 10th March

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