WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2
WHERE: King’s Head Theatre, Islington
WHEN: 17/9, runs to 23/9
Seven writers pen seven short plays which commemorate the recent 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.
- Read on for reasons including which three of the seven plays worked best
It’s an idea similar to the recent staging of Queers at the Old Vic before its BBC4 showing of the eight monologues spanning from 1917 to 2016.
It’s a tough act to follow as we already have Queers pencilled in on a shortlist of our favourite TV shows and new plays of 2017.
The seven-play cycle begins with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1952 as Daily Mail writer Peter Wildeblood, whose story was told in the excellent recent film Against The Law, and friends debate their lot.
A six-strong cast (three pictured above) take different parts in all the plays and, for the diversity of roles in which he convinces, we warmed most to Paul Carroll, playing a cross-dressing show business star in the first play who infuriates Wildeblood by not being open about his sexuality.
It is his gift of a ring to a young friend (Myles Devonte, perfect) for innocently re-acquainting him with the possibility of true love that tugs at the heart as it reappears in the plays that work best in this series.
‘I want George Michael to be gay but you can’t have everything,’ says actor Alex Marlow to much merriment in the 1984-set play on Brighton beach not far from The Grand Hotel. He’s playing a hotel worker whose rollercoaster romance with a speechwriter for the Prime Minister also features the ring from the 1952 story.
It reappears in the final scene in which chameleon Carroll is this time a lonely vicar whose having second thoughts about marrying his gay son (Jack Bence also very strong across numerous roles) to his lover.
One of the authors of the seven plays on show is Jonathan Harvey whose Beautiful Thing, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Beautiful People we’ve loved and was the reason we’re here.
It’s also our first visit to this excellent pub theatre venue, the King’s Head Theatre in Islington, and its intimacy makes it a great space for drama.
We’ll definitely be coming back to this venue and, if you’re looking for something both heartwarming, challenging and great value at two hours with interval, we’d urge you to try Outlaws To In-laws.