Union Theatre, London – until 8 June 2019
An elegy by definition is ‘a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead’. An elegy is there to express feelings of something or someone you have lost. So, here we follow the elegies of those who have passed due to HIV/AIDS, all those Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.
The show, with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Janet Hood is fantastic. Russell’s speech is so poetic and lyrical. The colour within phrases and sentences is just magical. There is so much juicy dialogue to enjoy. And Hood’s music is just so beautiful, the amount of emotion within her score is tear jerking alone. The music, book and lyrics deliver stellar material about a very delicate subject.
However, in this production of Elegies For Angels, Punks & Raging Queens, the material is mismanaged. First, the cast is simply too large. With 16 cast members, the stage is cluttered and honestly half of them don’t make their mark and fade into the background. The show would’ve been effective with half the cast.
There are some standouts like Marcus Ayton as Lamar/Miles, Calum Gulvin as Nick/Paul, Jackie Pulford as Rebecca/Joanne, Fraser Leigh Green as Ray/Joe and Rhys Taylor as Dwight/Roscoe. These five actors truly understand the lyrical essence of the material they we given and delivered it well.
Despite its potential to be great, what lets this show down is Bryan Hodgson’s staging. It feels clunky and disjointed, almost like a bad drama school showcase. However, one saving grace for this show is the vocals. The harmonies are well rehearsed and well done, a credit to musical director Henry Brennan. The light design by Alex Musgrave is another positive.
What made up for all the bad within the show was the striking final image. The emotion that you feel and that I felt at the end of the show made sure that the show was better than disappointing. However, one moment doesn’t make a show. It’s a shame because this show had all the potential to be fantastic, but the material was, in my opinion, interpreted wrongly and overall missed the mark.
Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens runs at the Union Theatre until 8th June 2019
photo credit: Mark Senior