BWW Review: JUBILEE, Lyric Hammersmith
Jubilee is an event that fucks with every theatrical convention, but it also provokes its audience in the most important way. Derek Jarman's iconic film has been adapted for the stage by Chris Goode, centring around a marauding girl gang on a killing spree and a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I - telling a story of what happens when creativity and nihilism collide.
The company hold nothing back - be it via nudity, crassness or direct address, they actively attempt to make you feel something. And I imagine you'll feel a lot, even if it's the sensation of being uncomfortable. Which is good; you should be.
After the interval you can tell who the non-progressive, potentially prejudicial people were in the audience. As Act Two begins many seats are now empty. People have left due to their own insecurities and biases around seeing naked flesh on stage, or as Travis Alabanza calls it, "one too many ballsacks".
This is so much more than a piece of theatre. Chris Goode's production is a political statement that shoves the celebration of individuality down your throat. The entire company shine in their own joyous way and it's a special sight. However, in no way is the play glamorous. It's raw, gritty and viciously attacks every single one of your preconceptions.
It's all so messy; but the production is acutely aware of this, so you just embrace it as the norm. The ensemble moments allow a number of club kids to shine as individuals. Featuring a variety of different queer aesthetics, every look is vastly different and together the company create an atmosphere that embraces the uniqueness of the human spirit.
It's just a shame that the audience wasn't as diverse as the people on stage. Perhaps this is because it was press night, but I do hope that the piece will reach a wider audience than just middle-class white people. It's necessary viewing; not just for queer people, but perhaps more so for those that fall into the lines of heteronormativity.
Jubilee is a production that is desperately needed. Very much of today's theatre is the same old generic tropes that are somewhat entertaining, but certainly predictable. This is something different; it's a night that actively encourages discomfort, in order to make the audience reflect on their views.
Jubilee will stay with me for a long time. It is definitely one of the most progressive pieces of the decade. It's sexy, riotous, celebratory and a bloody good night out. Go and be shocked. Be moved. Challenge your own prejudice. This piece will do something to you, and if it doesn't, well, then I worry for you.
Jubilee at the Lyric Hammersmith until 10 March
Photo credit: Tristram Kenton