The Theatreguide.London Review
In March 2020 the covid-19 epidemic
forced the closure of all British theatres. Some companies adapted
by putting archive recordings of past productions online, others
by streaming new shows. And we take the opportunity to explore
other vintage productions preserved online. Until things return to
normal we review the experience of watching live theatre onscreen.
MP Theatricals February-March 2022
one-hour play-with-music has had a small number of showcase performances
in Wolverhampton, Leicester and London, with this online video clearly
hoping to inspire further stagings.
is a modestly charming little show, but it is not particularly well
served by this recording, and any future will probably have to depend on
further live showcases.
story is of two young homosexual men in 1930s London, during what
appears to have been a very brief window when gays, though outlawed,
enjoyed the luxury of a little openness and acceptance, at least in
London's artier culture.
mouse Laurence (Barry O'Reilly) comes to London expressly to find the
high gay life, and is taken under the wing of more experienced Wilfred
(Teddy Hinde), who introduces him to the 'sisterhood' of a small gay
the course of a year Laurence flourishes, finding a boyfriend and a
larger, more flamboyant gay club scene, while Wilfred stays behind and
they drift apart. A police raid on the bigger gay club signals the end
of that interlude of openness, and the two men face separate but more
string of short scenes is punctuated by pleasant but unmemorable songs
backed by an onstage trio of violin, viola and keyboards.
the low-budget University of Wolverhampton production recorded here,
there is an interesting story being told, though it is really more about
the milieu and the historical moment than the two individuals, who are
never given much reality beyond their function as representative types.
Matt Powell has encouraged both actors to play near-parody exaggerations
of flamboyant gay behaviour.
may well be deliberate, as it is believable that the characters
revelling in unaccustomed freedom could entertain themselves with a bit
of wild abandon. But that psychological process is not shown us, so the
camping about seems too often just like bad acting.
performers wear microphones, neither is always successful in projecting
his singing over the not-especially-loud musicians, with Hinde
particularly inaudible or unintelligible in all his songs. (At one point
in this recording Hinde's mic briefly cuts out, and even his speaking
voice is inaudible.)
the stage lighting and the performers are not always in the same place,
nor are the multiple cameras always pointed in the right direction.
With stronger direction, more clearly defined characterisations and a more successful evocation of time and place, Is He Musical? could have a future. But this recording finds it a little too early in the development process.
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