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Travelin' Through: Broken Toys @CervantesTheatr

Things are a bit different at the Cervantes Theatre when you see Broken Toys. You enter through the upstairs dressing rooms and go down to the theatre. It is a circuitous route, much like the story of Marion. You end up in the same place but have taken a different journey. And like what the old prostitute said. It's not the work but the stairs. And there before you is the theatre, but not entirely as I recall it. It feels like an intimate cabaret venue with tables and a shiny stage. And there we are introduced to Marion. Marion grew up in a small town during the Franco regime. A place where looking a bit different could make you the subject of gossip and a threat to your life. And despite being assigned male at birth and the attempts of family and father figures, she was an outsider in her town.  And so Marion sets off on a journey to the city. And in the shadows, she finds a place to hide. But with guidance from drag performer Dorian Delacroix begins to find her voice. Her journe

Catholic tastes: A Picture of John Gray

The Picture of John Gray imagines the life of poet and potential inspiration of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

It is a fascinating and thought provoking piece that recreates the period where the arts and Aestheticism were at the forefront of London society, and then how almost overnight it would all change as Oscar Wilde is imprisoned for acts of gross indecency.

The piece opens where John Gray has been left by Wilde and meets Marc-André Raffalovich, a writer, critic and supporter of the arts. They become lovers but following the trial of Oscar Wilde and the fracturing of their community of artists, Gray finds his calling and spiritual meaning through the sanctuary of the church and becomes a priest.

The cleverness in this production is how it manages to establish the period and provide convincing portrayals of Wilde's contemporaries.

A story of love, faith and compromise evolves as Raffalovich remains in Gray's life at a time when homosexuality was far from accepted, even if artists could explain it away through art and poetry.

People (including Raffalovich) were grappling with sexuality, what it meant and the role they would play in society, and this motivated their actions as much as their emotions.

It is a simple production mostly set within an art studio. The cast are effective in bringing out the humour and tenderness of the piece.

The production is supported by Lord Browne, the only chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to publicly identify as gay (and author of the Glass Closet, which explores why people chose to stay in the closet at work), and Baron Chris Smith, one of the first openly gay MPs.

The Picture of John Gray is now playing at The Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington until Saturday 30th August 2014. But dress for a warm evening, as bizarrely they turn the air conditioning off as the drama starts at the Old Red Lion. It isn't just the drama and scandal that is hot.


Photo credit: Production photos

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