After The Act (A Section 28 Musical) ★★
A VHS glitchy, verbatim docu-musical with little heart and too many facts.
The generation of misguided youth that were affected by Section 28 deserve a more fitting tribute to this legacy of homophobia and hatred of those different to ourselves. This feels like a bad Radio 4 documentary about Section 28: it is very serious, humourless and feels like a GCSE Drama ‘issues-based’ play.
A much better exploration of the issues raised in this play is the recent film ‘Blue Jean’, a touching and sensitive drama about a lesbian PE teacher struggling with the issues of censorship, prejudice and shame in the 80s. It does everything this doesn’t, channeling a real character’s pain, not just voxpop doc interviews. The political punch of the Lesbian community is explored well by the production, but the gay male characters lack three dimensions.
The show is made up of a messy collage of interviews, the cast speaking/signing their words. A verbatim musical is hard to pull off, as the choruses of songs are made from pithy quotes but don’t really have the rhythm of a driving musical powerhouse. Sadly the singing is a bit flat and the music isn’t up to par. This production is post Billy Elliot, and needs to realise the true devastating emotional potential of a pop and politics mash-up.
The VHS inspired video design and visuals are glossy and lovely to watch – but the on stage action is a little too neat and restrained for such an emotive topic.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.