Review: The Old Queen’s Head, Lion & Unicorn

David Patterson’s one-man The Old Queen’s Head is sweetly done at the Lion & Unicorn

“Elizabeth says…”

Some things from our childhood can make the deepest impressions on us, really loom large in later life. And for David, it is Queen Elizabeth II, or rather a bust of her who gazes imperiously from atop her column in his flat. A love for the monarch nurtured by a beloved grandmother, who happily loaned her fur coat so he could play make-believe at tea parties, has morphed into something stranger, the Queen as an internalised voice in David’s head. His conscience? His own royal aide? His alter ego?

Beginning as so many things do out of the wreckage of a break-up (qv this blog!!), David Patterson’s The Old Queen’s Head explores David’s own exploration of his queer identity, touching on coming out narratives and the lessons to be learned from early relationships. First boyfriends and first loves, fears about how friends and family will take the news, it’s all well-worn territory to be sure but to be honest, I don’t think we can ever really get enough queer stories into our theatres, especially ones filled with joy.

Patterson proves to be a highly engaging performer, director Ben Anderson drawing much physicality from him to inhabit the range of characters that have impacted his life thus far, enhanced by some impressive vocal theatrics from his native Scots through to Her Maj herself. That (inner) dialogue proves the backbone of the show, a slow journey to true self-acceptance that has to work hard to silence the nagging doubts and fears about being gay in contemporary society and if it doesn’t quite have dramatic fireworks, it has something more important in the potential to be quietly inspirational.

Running time: 70 minutes (without interval)
The Old Queen’s Head is booking at the Lion & Unicorn until 24th September

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