REVIEW: QUEERETERIA TV (Above The Stag) ★★
Perhaps it was because I was unfamiliar with the first two parts of the Torsten trilogy that I found this strange collaborative work hard to follow; or perhaps it was the generously spiked complimentary iced tea we were given on arrival. Possibly a combination of both.
As a concept it is certainly interesting. Andy Bell of Erasure fame, as his alter ego Torsten, represents a unique collaboration between himself, writer and poet (and somewhat ill advised actor in this piece) Barney Ashton and musician Christopher Frost, with concept albums as a soundtrack to the piece of theatre released simultaneously by Cherry Red Records.
Vocally, Andy proves he has lost none of his talent for soaring notes and putting across melodic tunes, though his acting is somewhat wooden and I would prefer to see him in a traditional concert format as himself.
The script is set in an imagined post-apocalyptic world, where gay men take over a television station while holding Torsten hostage, and alongside a love story that left me cold, proceeds to be a pastiche of well loved TV format shows, from Ready, Steady Cook to Dragon’s Den. A social comment on the banality of reality shows perhaps, but all in all, it is an over written piece, too clever and verbose for its own good that often loses its way.
This was unfortunately highlighted by the fact that one of the key players, Peter Straker, who despite an incredibly impressive CV and with a great singing voice, had clearly been unable to learn his lines in time for this press performance and therefore read many scenes with script in hand (which I would not expect to see within a professional production).
The set was visually impressive and the multimedia aspect was well used with screens all around. However, the dancing was often cheesy, mundane and out of time, with many of the lyrics questionable and the script filth for filth’s sake and quite distasteful in parts.
The stand out performer for me was Matthew Baldwin who almost single handedly kept the whole show together. You could almost feel the collective sigh of relief, when his acerbic and comic creation Lady Domina Bizarre held court, and he is eminently watchable and extremely talented. I for one will be looking out for him in other, less confusing productions.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday
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