Harold Thropp is a very tired very angry panto dame. Arriving at a down at heel Northern town – probably Sunderland – he discovers that Widow Twankey has been reduced to a tiny cupboard of a dressing room in what he describes as the “cellar “.
In this staggering feat of memory Jason Sutton aka Miss Jason, rants, raves, reminisces, laughs and cries at his past life and current predicament. Appropriately the one-man show forms part of the B RIGHT ON season of LGBT events.
In a rapid fire monologue Harold recounts the early days of his gay youth – encounters in public toilets, police entrapment and brutality and the cruelty of becoming homeless and destitute when his partner dies intestate.
It’s a timely reminder of how far gay rights have come but also how far there is still to go. Deftly directed by Allan Cardew, Philip Meeks dense dialogue doers falter once or twice but Jason’s immaculate timing and delivery of many, many hilarious one-liners more than makes up.
He doesn’t make life easy for himself because he is constantly on the go in the tiny acting space, undressing, dressing and applying his dame’s makeup. I wished he could have faced us or at least half faced us to do the make up scene as his back sometimes obscured his witticisms.
That said, its is a highly nuanced performance – not just a tirade of bitter bitchiness but genuinely heart-rending when he talks of his mother, and of his lifelong partner Eric whose death he has clearly not come to terms with.
It’s a very rich canvas we cover in 90 minutes – the history of gay rights, the technicalities of panto and theatre in general and the domestic pain often hidden by the pro performer in his search for love and happiness onstage and off.
Jason should continue to revisit this stunning piece of acting and it would be a good vehicle for film or tv if anyone was brave enough to produce it.
Five star entertainment!