REVIEW: RIOT ACT (Kings Head Theatre) ★★★★

The Kings Head Theatre is playing host to Riot Act, a collection of monologues weaving together six decades of transatlantic queer history and activism.

Playwright and performer Alexis Gregory interviewed one of the only remaining Stonewall survivors – the 1969 NYC riot that began the gay rights movement; Lavinia Co-Op, a member of a 1970’s London radical drag troupe; and prominent 90’s London ACT UP AIDS activist Paul Burston.

All three men spoke candidly about their experiences, the progress that has been made and far we still have to go. The words of these men are powerful enough that no set is needed, their stories fill the stage.

The first of these stories explores how a community first united against prejudice following the death of Judy Garland and triggered many of the positive changes we see in society today. The second contemplates the issues of ageing and radical performance, while the final monologue stresses the importance of inclusion within the LGBT community when discussing the silencing of lesbian voices in AIDS activism.

Directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, Riot Act brings to life the issues of identity, ageing, sex and community. These monologues are a perfect educational tool for young members of the gay community, demanding respect for the stories told and urging the audience to be grateful to generations passed. Most importantly, the show reminds the audience that gay rights were hard fought for, and we still need to continue the fight for equality.

Reviewed by Ben McDonald
Photo: Dawson James


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