Theatre: Bette Bourne and Mark Ravenhill
I finally managed to catch Bette Bourne and Mark Ravenhill: A Life in Three Acts at the Soho Theatre on Friday night before it finished its run this weekend. It is part reading, part conversation, part cheap laughs, part oral history of the gay liberation movement in London and (on Friday night at least), part watching members of the audience get up and go to the toilet and watching Ravenhill give his death stare at them when the returned. Maybe it was the wind chill and happy hour at the bar that kept sending so many people out of the theatre... None of them were particularly light on their feet either.
Still, this is a great night out and here's hoping this isn't the last time this is seen. Bourne who is now 70 and living in a housing estate in Notting Hill has loads of stories to tell. Over his years he performed at the Old Vic, set up a squat with drag queens and appeared on the BBC. He also found particular fame in the gay community with his cabaret troupe, Bloolips. The adventures from his early years are enough to make you wonder whether the bad old days of oppression, blackmail, running from police on horseback on Hampstead Heath and the like were really all that bad.
He also recounts his first performance as a youngster singing "Don't go under the apple tree" in Hackney and his singing and dancing is a highlight. So was his story about how people in Notting Hill react to him today, where on the street markets he is a bit of colour and the traders speak to him as if he is a mate. Away from the theatre of the street however he is ignored. And who said that it's only show business that is superficial...