Review: Dorian A Rock Musical, stream.theatre

A strong lead performance from Bart Lambert impresses in this streaming Oscar Wilde adaptation, but Dorian A Rock Musical lacks a real sense of identity

“Music is what I want now”

In a development that may well have made Oscar Wilde chuckle, daptations of The Picture of Dorian Gray are never too far from our stages and screens. We’ve had a streamed reinterpretation already this year but as its name might suggest, Dorian A Rock Musical also modernises the text but puts a musical spin onto the tale.

In some ways, Dorian A Rock Musical is a bit of a misnomer, Joe Evans’ score draws its influences from a much wider musical palette than solely rock and that’s probably to its advantage. Although undoubtedly gothic to its very soul, there’s an appealing openness to much of the music here with its plentiful harmonies, which marries well with lyrics that wittily incorporate the occasional Wildean bon motContinue reading “Review: Dorian A Rock Musical, stream.theatre”

Review: Two Worlds No Family, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

The Lion and Unicorn Theatre hosts Draft99 Theatre and their production of Ben Reid’s new LGBTQ+ play Two Worlds No Family

“Ollie, sort your shit out”

There’s something admirably bold about the vision behind Ben Reid’s Two Worlds No Family, a new play forefronting queer narratives and employing a visual language that suggests promise. His production for Draft99 Theatre slots into the black box of the Lion and Unicorn Theatre well though there’s no denying the subject matter can get a little brutal.

Ollie does indeed have a lot of shit to sort out. He’s a bit too keen on Tina Turner’s ‘Private Dancer’ for one, but he’s also out of work with bills are mounting up. So when a chance encounter with a handsome silver fox bearing party drugs presents a way out, it seems too good to be true. And of course it is, as a scarily slippery route to sexual exploitation is revealed, something made worse by Ollie’s deep unwillingness to talk about his problems, even with his best pals Tyler and Kat. Continue reading “Review: Two Worlds No Family, Lion and Unicorn Theatre”

Review: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre

Be More Chill is a couple of hours of enjoyable, escapist fun at the Shaftesbury Theatre

“I am not the one who the story’s about”

Through no fault of its own, I just decided that I didn’t need Be More Chill in my life when it opened last year at The Other Palace, put it down to me trying to see less… And since that happened in a way more drastic manner than anyone could have foreseen, I had to say yes when the show announced its reboot for a summer season at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

And I’m so glad I did, as I’d been doing myself out of a really fun show. Joe Tracz’s book borrows heavily from traditions of high school melodramas and social outcasts learning life lessons but it swerves the po-faced sanctimony of the likes of Dear Evan Hansen and dives headlong into the pulpy thrills of the likes of Little Shop of Horrors, resulting in something daftly enjoyable. Continue reading “Review: Be More Chill, Shaftesbury Theatre”

Review: Staircase, Southwark Playhouse

Returning to the not-so-distant past when same-sex relationships were illegal, this is a thought-provoking revival of Charles Dyer’s Staircase at Southwark Playhouse

“When have you bolstered me?”

There’s a deep sadness at the heart of Charles Dyer’s 1966 play Staircase, both onstage and off. Today we might define it as internalised homophobia but at a time when homosexuality was still very much illegal in the UK, such a diagnosis must have seemed unnecessary. As it was, to get the play staged by the RSC, it had to submit to heavy censoring and though it was later made into a film starring Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, it was recalibrated into a camp comedy that twisted it even further away from authorial intent.  

The play takes place over a long night of the soul for hairdressers Charlie and Harry in the Brixton barbershop Chez Harry (beautifully realised by set designer Alex Marker). They’ve have been together for 20 years but with Harry struggling to cope with his receding hairline and Charlie revealing an impending court case after being arrested in a pub for sitting on a man’s knee in drag, tensions are rising, putting their already spiky relationship under further strain. Continue reading “Review: Staircase, Southwark Playhouse”

TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Laura Fraser shine in The Pact, an excellent ensemble drama which twists and turns to its final beat

“This is Wales Gwen, not Los Angeles”

Ooh, well this was fun. Julie Hesmondhalgh has slowly but surely developed into the kind of actor I want to watch in everything she does. Her latest project started on BBC1 a couple of weeks ago but such is the way things are done these days, you can stream all six episodes of The Pact on the iPlayer now.

Written by Pete McTighe, it’s a murderous drama set by in a mid-Wales community where everyone knows each other. So much so that it’s best not to commit a major crime as your husband might end up being the one to investigates it. Such is the case for Laura Fraser’s Anna who, along with her best pals Nancy (Hesmondhalgh), Cat (Heledd Gwynn) and Louie (Eiry Thomas), plays a prank on their entitled a-hole of a boss, the ramifications of which unfold in ways which no-one could imagine. Continue reading “TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)”

Film Review: Ammonite (2020)

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan deliver committed performances in Francis Lee’s Ammonite but the film rarely excites

“You know you can always ask me for help”

Francis Lee follows up the exceptional God’s Own Country with another story about hard labour in LGBTQ+ lives, this time focusing on the first letter of the acronym. Ammonite follows the life of 18th century fossil hunter Mary Anning, a woman working hard in her chosen field but stifled by Victorian attitudes which resulted in her discoveries being shown without any credit being given to her in her lifetime.

Lee couples this narrative of historical misogyny with a love story of his own making, a speculative romance that sees a growing connection build with Charlotte Murchison. Their ‘meet-cute’ comes at the behest of Murchison’s husband, a geologist wanting to learn from Anning’s practices and when he opts to take a trip away which conveniently coincides with his wife falling into a depression, a period of convalesence under Mary’s care in Lyme Regis is prescribed. Continue reading “Film Review: Ammonite (2020)”

Review: Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe

Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe rips the piss out of Eurovision with great affection and some seriously good tunes

“Clap and cheer like crazy people”

Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe rises like a phoenix once again, now being hosted by Liechtenstein as Craig Christie’s musical enters the streaming market with a filmed performance from the Clapham Grand. Directed with a knowing wryness by Max Bex Roberts, the shows brings together 9 European nations and the UK to work through any number of Eurovision stereotypes in highly amusing style.

The show actually does a great job of ripping the piss out of so many of the Eurovision staples around the songs as well. The show-stealingly good hosting (David O’Reilly’s Orla Aboard nailing it as Marlene Cabana), dry Eurocrats reading out the rules (Andy Coxon being adorkable), the local colour (Sooz Kempner and Scott Paige in brilliant form), the little clips before each song. And a final number by Marlene hits a surprisingly authentic emotional note which lifts the spirits just before the voting begins.

But enough, here’s the brief notes from my scorecard, from douze points to nul! Continue reading “Review: Eurobeat – The Pride of Europe”

Review: Cock, Studio Theatre online

Streaming allows to me take in a transatlantic version of Mike Bartlett’s Cock, starring Queer as Folk’s Randy Harrison

“You want your boyfriend’s help with the woman you’re sleeping with?”

The subject matter of Mike Bartlett’s Cock is one which has proved satisfyingly timeless, at least over the last decade but in a socially distanced age, it turns out that its form has also future-proofed it. Though it has four characters that interact, its focus on verbal interplay rather than physical shenanigans allies itself with the manipulations needed for COVID-19 protocols much more than other plays.  

And having mounted an award-winning production of the play for Washington DC’s Studio Theatre in 2014, director David Muse has returned to it to launch the theatre’s debut online season. The result is a finely tuned hybrid of film and theatre that slots well into the now-global pandemic programming and as mentioned, Bartlett’s exploration of sexual fluidity remains as pointedly pertinent as ever, particularly in how it refracts through our relationships. Continue reading “Review: Cock, Studio Theatre online”

Review: Safe

Alexis Gregory’s Safe puts the stories of homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people front and centre

“It’s a…phase”

A digital verbatim theatre piece on 

Taking its starting point as the startling statistic that 25% of homeless and at risk young people identify as LGBTQ+, Alexis Gregory’s Safe is a piece of verbatim theatre that allows those very young people to have their stories heard. It’s an arresting and sometimes challenging piece to be sure but a beautiful thread of hope runs throughout, leading us to a place that is uplifting but pragmatically so. 

Safe weaves together the stories of four homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ young people that Gregory met through akt. From stories of self-realisation to cautionary coming-out tales, families who throw you out to families who close ranks to try and keep secrets, there’s a skilful mix of experiences that whilst are full of commonalities, reminds us of how intensely personal one’s own journey is. Continue reading “Review: Safe”

News: get some Pride at the Palace in June

For one night only (7th June), a host of Queer stars from the West End and beyond come together to celebrate their Pride in a spectacular concert.

Pride at the Palace celebrates our wonderful LGBTQIA+ community in all it’s glory with a set list that includes multiple Queer anthems, as well as songs you simply won’t be able to resist getting up and dancing to! Continue reading “News: get some Pride at the Palace in June”