AFTER EDWARD ☆☆☆☆☆
SAN WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE, LONDON
Sense is overrated”, declares Gertrude Stein at one point in this play and certainly you’re in for a surreal experience with this powerful and quick-witted response to Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II.
Much of tonight’s cast are from the recent Globe production of Marlowe’s famous gay play, including lead Tom Stuart who also wrote this play in response to playing the tragic king in that production, which I also saw and enjoyed. Stuart’s writing is full of sharp, funny banter as he lands with a crash inside his own psyche and is soon visited by Stein and other queer luminaries, such as Quentin Crisp and Harvey Milk (played brilliantly by Richard Cant and Polly Frame, respectively). There’s so much energy and warmth throughout this piece that it rattles along and the script deploys the words of these three icons to great effect.
There’s a hilarious appearance by Sanchia McCormack as Margaret Thatcher as the play tackles the issue of growing up gay in the shadow of the 1987 Clause 28 outlawing the promotion of homosexuality in schools.
Born in 1982, young Tom Stuart is made to feel wrong, ashamed of his desires, his identity, and the play pulls on recent stories affecting LGBTQ lives such as the Birmingham teaching row and this week’s story that Brunei is to start punishing gay sex with death by stoning.
All the performances are wonderful and my only complaint, as an embittered old puff, is the exaggerated feel-good singalong with which it ends – although I was in a minority, I’m sure, as the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation. For Annette Badland’s Stein alone is worth the ticket price, but there is much much more to enjoy here, and a powerful and important message is delivered.
https://www.shakespearesglobe.com/whats-on-2018/after-edward Until April 6th 2019
Review by Jonathan Kemp
Queerguru London Correspondent Jonathan Kemp writes fiction and non-fiction and teaches creative writing at Middlesex University. He is the author of two novels – London Triptych (2010), which won the 2011 Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, and Ghosting (2015) – and the short-story collection Twentysix. (2011, all published by Myriad Editions). Non-fiction works include The Penetrated Male (2012) and Homotopia?: Gay Identity, Sameness and the Politics of Desire (2015, both Punctum Books).
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