Review: Two Short Plays About Gays, Hope

“This is the face of a man who shags rent boys”

Doing exactly what it says on the tin, and a whole lot more besides, Two Short Plays About Gays is a powerful evening at the Hope Theatre, blessed by a stunningly excoriating performance from Louise Jameson. For rather than short and sweet, it is bracing and bittersweet, both shorts written by Lesley Ross (also a lyricist whose work I’ve reviewed here – Love, Lies & Lyrics – The Words of Lesley Ross) with a bruising sense of honesty and directed uncompromisingly by Nigel Fairs.

First up is Middle Aged Rent in which a gentleman d’un certain âge (Ross, performing as Gregory Ashton) recounts the experience of moving to London in the 1980s, his teenage self appearing onstage with him. The realities of leaving home as a young gay man, ostracised from his family and without any money, are presently frankly, the choices neither excused nor eulogised and crucially, they’re told with dynamism as surprises – both cruel and comic – come his way. Continue reading “Review: Two Short Plays About Gays, Hope”

Album Review: John-Victor – Shoot…Bang!

“Turn your bedroom into a nightclub”

Somewhat ironically, just last week I inferred that it’s a much more diverse prospect to collate a lyricist’s work, as opposed to to a composer, into a cohesive album whilst reviewing wordsmith Lesley Ross’ new CD. But turning to one of Ross’ musical collaborators on that disc – John-Victor – I’ve immediately been proven wrong with Shoot…Bang! This is new musical theatre writing as you’ve rarely heard it, genuinely original and fiercely contemporary and yes, hugely wide-ranging in its content.

Pulling together excerpts from four of his musicals in various stages of development (some with Perfect Pitch) War and Fleece and Barry the Penguin (a black and white Christmas) written with Lesley Ross, and Carla Cthulu and Chick with Paul Roberts, what instantly strikes you is the immediacy of the music. It’s club tunes, it’s pop songs, it’s radio hits, all fed through with an essential thread of musical theatre but emerging with the kind of freshness that is, well, so refreshing to hear. It is clear to see why pop bands have called him in to help co-write hits for them but the prospect of hearing this music in fully-fleshed out shows in theatres is a hugely exciting prospect for the future. Continue reading “Album Review: John-Victor – Shoot…Bang!”

Album Review: Love, Lies & Lyrics – The Words of Lesley Ross

Why do whores only sing in musicals?” 

Showcasing the work of a lyricist is a different prospect from that of a composer, something that is immediately apparent from glancing at the cover and booklet of Love, Lies & Lyrics – The Words of Lesley Ross, the latest new musical theatre CD emerge from the nurturing cocoon of SimG Records. This album features music from 4 different writers, taken from over a dozen musicals, with the now customary array of West End stars – over 30 in number here – so it can’t help but be highly eclectic as a collection, in something of a similar vein to Robert Gould’s collection from last year.

The diversity of this approach certainly has its benefits, especially as man of the songs are around the 2 minute mark, as it means the album can bounce around wryly comic observation songs like ‘Pick A Ticket!’ and ‘Him in 23B’ to the more heartfelt but still story-led balladry of Nigel Richards’ ‘And In My Heart’ and Annalene Beechey’s ‘Song for Someone’. If I had to pick, Madalena Alberto’s plaintive lullaby ‘I Will Be There’ is the highlight of the record – its gorgeously delicate emotion coming from a perfect confection of lyric, music and performance.  Continue reading “Album Review: Love, Lies & Lyrics – The Words of Lesley Ross”