REVIEW: ELEGIES FOR ANGELS, PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

THEATRE

ELEGIES FOR ANGELS, PUNKS AND RAGING QUEENS    

The Space on the North Bridge    V36

August 5 to 10     21.40

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars)

The backdrop to this show is a representation of the splendid Quilt, which was devised and developed during the years of the AIDS crisis and toured the world as an exhibition. It consisted of many thousands of sections, each one a memorial to someone who had died of AIDS. As is mentioned in this show, one of the most glitzy was that dedicated to Rock Hudson. Leading one character here to express “quilt envy.”
The show takes the form of thirty characters celebrating the lives they had before dying of AIDS, or in some cases living with the condition. If this sounds downbeat, think again! These are almost all characters who have lived richly, and who have known how to party. They present a dizzying range or reactions and memories. There are many catchy numbers expressing various emotions.
Many of the characters have had joyful gay lives, many have had to face a devastating early demise, some have been infected as a result of drug use, some because of infected blood products or transfusion. Everyone has a vivid tale to tell.
The shown is brought to us by Showdown Productions, has been at the Brighton Fringe Festival, and has a cast of eighteen actors who are graduates or current students at leading drama schools in the UK and US. They come from New York, London, Surrey and West Sussex. And they are all splendid.
The night I saw the show the start had been delayed by a fire alarm – evacuation, fire engines, the lot. Not what cast or audience want immediately before the show starts – but did this affect the quality of the performance? Not one jot. The opening performers began with vigour and exuberance and things continued that way. Roles were doubled up very effectively, styles and moods varied as we went along, and the show was consistently engaging and a delight. There were, of course, moments of tragedy and sadness, and encounters with prejudice and rejection, and the pain of these, but the solidarity of other community members usually supported.
This was one of the big messages of the show – the great value of having a community of support in times of trouble and distress.
This company are supporters of “Youth Stop AIDS”, a youth led initiative campaigning for a world without AIDS by 2030. All power to their arms!
Get along to this show if you want an uplifting end to your evening, one that has a serious purpose, but is also inspiring and joyous, which underlines the importance of people acting together, and which includes much fine young acting and singing talent.
TONY CHALLIS