Victorians Ernest Boulton and William Park were known and adored as Fanny and Stella. They dazzled in female roles on the nation’s stages – and in clubs and bedrooms from London to the Highlands. Behind closed doors they lovingly bitched at each other like an old married couple. This is the shocking story of their own rise to fame and fall from grace. Being arrested for sodomy and standing trial before finally being found not guilty and changing the way society sees drag queens (well, it was a start at least).
Mark Gee Finch plays Fanny, the more eloquent of the two characters who comedically takes on several different roles to help tell Stella’s story. Making his London debut is Robert Jeffrey as Stella. The Aussie had me fooled that he was British and is one to watch on the West End scene with slick dance moves and great acting.
Alexander Allin played American Robert Safford Fiske well, however looked a little lost during group numbers, as though he wasn’t quite sure where he should be looking. Christopher Bonwell played Louis Charles Hart, the Prince Charming character who keeps being pulled in to Stellas world, only to be spat out again. He is adorable to watch with promise in his eyes. Phil Sealey is the ringleader for this show, introducing scenes and taking on various small roles that are given to him by Stella. He is an all-round good performer with a Widow Twankie twist. James Robert-Moore completes the cast of six, as Lord Arthur Clinton and does a great job giving some authority to the show.
Set design is good with a Vaudeville esq set, gold painted walls and wardrobes cleverly on each side of the stage to provide change areas for props and entrances/exits.
Fanny & Stella is a riotous new play about two young men who dared to be different, whatever the cost. It’s funny, with catchy songs and is not only a great night out but a story of history which will want you to put on your bloomers and go out to celebrate. Just stay away from any sodomy on the Strand.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo by Derek Drescher
Fanny & Stella is playing at Above the Stag until 14 June 2015. Click here for tickets