#216 - Skin Hunger

Stone Nest, Shaftesbury Avenue

Conceived under the second lockdown, when physical contact was suddenly, drastically curtailed, Dante or Die’s three monologues offer a one-on-one experience including the chance safely to hug or hold hands with performers wearing gloves and reaching through safety curtains. Opening under looser restrictions, the show has inevitably lost some power though the storytelling in this empty chapel on Shaftesbury Avenue remains an intensely distilled experience. One monologue details a romance and breakup, the second an attempt at reconciliation. The third, about the loss of a parent, mirrored my own experience and I found it intensely moving. An odd and imperfect piece of work, but testament to theatre-makers’ imagination, and their ability to make a virtue of necessity.

#215 - Scaramouche Jones of the Seven White Masks

Wilton's Music Hall,

After decades of picaresque global wanderings, an absurd clown tries to amuse the child victims of a concentration camp whose graves he has dug, then spends the remaining decades until his death on Millennium eve – his 100th birthday - re-enacting his routine. Writer-performer Justin Butcher’s 2001 solo show is a well-crafted piece of storytelling, and its actorliness suits Wilton’s well. But it’s an uncomfortable watch: the white-faced Scaramouche passes through the more-or-less abusive hands of several masters and friends but is oblivious to wider events until the Holocaust lends the story unearned gravitas. The show’s reliance on comic Caribbean and Arab accents has also not aged well. Troubling.

#214 - Noel Coward: Art & Style

Guildhall Art Gallery

Noel Coward was a child star, composer, playwright, actor, director, anecdotalist, spy, painter and as nearly out as a gay man as his times and temperament allowed. The Guildhall’s admirable exhibition covers every aspect of his six-decade career, while showing how carefully Coward crafted and modulated his own enduring image: clipped, immaculate, urbane. It was a lived pose, presented in more or less filtered form through the work, press coverage, holiday snaps and caricatures. There are gorgeous things here, from Gertrude Lawrence’s stage frocks to Coward’s 1920s makeup box and 1960s Jamaican shirt. Too, too divine.

#213 - Everybody's Talking About Jamie revisited...

Apollo Theatre

This Sheffield-based tale of a gay boy’s battle to wear a dress to the school prom still lacks jeopardy – the outcome is never in doubt – and still has plenty of heart. Noah Thomas is an exuberant Jamie and Hiba Elchikhe fiercely strong as his Muslim BFF Pritti. Tom Gillespie-Sells’ score plots a predictable emotional arc while Tom McRae’s book has been given an unobtrusive, Covid-ware rewrite. Thank goodness for the drag queens – now including Shane Richie as Loco Chanelle – whose faux-bitchery undercuts all the saccharine yass-kween affirmation. And maybe a show that’s all about acceptance and mutual support is what we need right now.

#212 - JR: Chronicles

Saatchi Gallery

Given his artworks usually cover whole walls, rooves, even an entire hillside favella, you might think French street artist JR would be diminished in a gallery. Not so: this collection emphasises the bold universality of his work, the way he turns everyday experience – in particular, the faces of ‘ordinary’ people – into something momentous, across Europe, America, Africa and the Middle East. The show documents his progression from graffiti artist to photographer to creator of huge, ephemeral public interventions that celebrate common humanity. Usually video artworks leave me cold but here they are an essential record of physical creations that, rather wonderfully, gradually wear away.

Displaying 11 - 15 of 231 Articles
prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | next