DIAMOND – Soho Theatre

In Cabaret, Comedy, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Soho Theatre, London – until 18 November 2017
by guest critic Gregory Forrest

What a mess! David Hoyle’s exploration of rainbow Britain and his own career is a rather queer turn of events. It plays. It experiments. It breaks. Above all, it asks whether there may be something truly radical in messiness. And it never gives a straight answer.

2017 marks fifty years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexual ‘behaviour’ between consenting adults in the UK, and sixty years since the Wolfenden Report recommended this as the best course of action for Parliament. A diamond anniversary, of sorts. The fact that it took our establishment a whole decade of chattering over details, while systematic prejudice and prosecution was rife, is a sourness Hoyle does not leave untasted.

Diamond, intersects the iconic performer and activist’s narrative of self-discovery with our nation’s LGBT+ story. It is a smart way of giving the evening a backbone, and yet even this structure contorts. The performance exists beyond common sense, while a vital target of Hoyle’s wit is the normal, the brainwashed, and the common. In queerness, it would seem, we find beautiful logic in this nonsense.

Support from drag troupe The LipSinkers is patchy at best. Their campy glamour lacks coherence, and, well, jokes. Nevertheless, in a political climate where right-wing kickbacks are frequently seeking to re-establish the gender binary, drag remains an inherently political act. And they are clearly having fun with it.

Still, I am desperate for a more incisive politics. Sweeping brushstrokes are made, shifting from Tory paedophiles to global arms dealers, and yet by lacking any contextual specificity, the canvas ends up in the realms of abstract expressionism. Or, as Hoyle puts it, ‘There’s something inadvertently avant-garde going on…’

One memorable moment stands out. Hoyle’s critique of the DUP is picked up by an audience member, who disrupts the proceedings to discuss Northern Ireland’s first ever lesbian marriage. Wires seem to be crossed in the conversation, and yet it reveals Hoyle’s openness to be educated by his audience. He is a confident and clever performer, but it’s still a mess.

Put simply, Diamond‘s deepest faults are simultaneously its greatest strengths; and it has both in abundance.

Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.
Read more...

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Laura Kressly on RssLaura Kressly on Twitter
Laura Kressly
Laura is a US immigrant who has lived in the UK since 2004. Originally trained as an actor with a specialism in Shakespeare, she enjoyed many pre-recession years working as a performer, director and fringe theatre producer. When the going got too tough, she took a break to work in education as a support worker, then a secondary school drama teacher. To keep up with the theatrical world, she started reviewing for Everything Theatre and Remotegoat in 2013. In 2015, Laura started teaching part time in order to get back into theatre. She is now a freelance fringe theatre producer and runs her independent blog, theplaysthethinguk.com.

Leave a Comment