Theatre Review - Jubilee

Chris Goode’s riotous adaptation of Derek Jarman’s seminal film about anarchy in the UK is not for the faint hearted. Featuring simulated sex, unrestrained nudity and mindless acts of violence, this provocative stage version will undoubtedly divide audiences, just as Jarman did in 1978.

Toyah Willcox, who starred as the pyromaniac Mad in the film version, now plays Queen Elizabeth I observing the excesses of a group of friends sharing a squat in Brexit Britain.

Amyl Nitrate (an electrifying performance by Travis Alabanza) serves as our emcee for the evening. Sexual predator Crabs (Rose Wardlaw) lures unsuspecting men home where they often meet a brutal and untimely end, while Bod (Sophie Stone) is the murderous de facto leader of the gang. Ariel, an ethereal presence (Lucy Ellinson), links segments and time.

When incestuous brothers Angel (Tom Ross-Williams) and Sphinx (Craig Hamilton) are murdered in a club by a gun-toting policeman all hell breaks loose as the gang take their bloody revenge.

Goode and Alabanza are well known for their performance art, Ellinson doubles as performance artist Viv, and there’s a deliberate improvisational quality to Jubilee. At times, it feels like a series of sketches and tableaux that never quite coalesce into a satisfying whole. But that, perhaps, is the point – chaos reigns over order.

Goode’s production is fast-paced, in yer face and rough round the edges. Highlights are Alabanza’s frenetic dance scene waving a Union Jack and the group finale of Toyah’s 1981 hit I Want To Be Free. Memorable, if not always meaningful.

Originally published by Camden New Journal