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Roger Casement: Butterflies and Bones review: blood and thunder

Secrets Of The Black Diaries...Picture Shows: Image order No HK6737 Irish Patriot and British Consular Official Sir Roger Casement (1864 - 1916) is escorted to the gallows of Pentonville Prison, London. TX: BBC FOUR Friday, March 15 2002 Getty Images/Hulton Archives Roger Casement, former British Consul to the Congo, was hanged for treason for his role in Ireland's 1916 Easter Rising. His conviction rested on a set of diaries that suggested he had pursued a highly promiscuous homosexual life. Under the social mores of the day, such a revelation deprived him of all hope of clemency. But were the diaries faked? BBC Four investigates the 85-year-old mystery. WARNING: This Getty Image copyright image may be used only to publicise 'Secrets Of The Black Diaries'. Any other use whatsoever without specific prior approval from 'Getty Images' may result in legal action.

Secrets Of The Black Diaries…Picture Shows: Image order No HK6737 Irish Patriot and British Consular Official Sir Roger Casement (1864 – 1916) is escorted to the gallows of Pentonville Prison, London.
TX: BBC FOUR Friday, March 15 2002
Getty Images/Hulton Archives
Roger Casement, former British Consul to the Congo, was hanged for treason for his role in Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. His conviction rested on a set of diaries that suggested he had pursued a highly promiscuous homosexual life. Under the social mores of the day, such a revelation deprived him of all hope of clemency. But were the diaries faked? BBC Four investigates the 85-year-old mystery.
WARNING: This Getty Image copyright image may be used only to publicise ‘Secrets Of The Black Diaries’. Any other use whatsoever without specific prior approval from ‘Getty Images’ may result in legal action.

If you’ve never heard of Roger Casement, who was executed by the British for treason 100 years ago today, the reason is as simple as it is sad, he was homosexual. For that reason he was ignored when he was not being written out of our revolutionary history.

Jeffrey Dudgeon, MBE has written two wonderful insightful books into Casement,

and

Aidan Lonergan has written that there are ten things we don’t know about Casement:

  1. His Antrim father fought in Afghanistan
  2. His Anglican mother secretly baptised him as a Catholic
  3. He was looked after by the people of Antrim after his parents died
  4. He exposed one of the bloodiest colonial regimes ever
  5. What he saw changed him
  6. He sought German backing for an Irish rebellion during WWI
  7. Some see him as a gay icon
  8. Arthur Conan Doyle campaigned against his sentence
  9. He converted to Catholicism on the day of his execution
  10. A hundred years on from the Easter Rising, it’s important to remember Casement

However, as with all history, it is open to interpretation, and I know that different camps will have different feelings towards Casement, his impact on Irish history, and on Gay History.

The musical about him was one such attempt, and I hope that if it comes to a theatre near you, you will make an effort to see it and view it through the eyes of someone who is probably far older than he was, and also who has the benefit of a society that is beginning to be accepting of LGBT people.

 

Roger Casement is (again) centre stage, but this time it’s the dance world that’s exploring the many facets of his life

Source: Butterflies and Bones review: blood and thunder

Tommy at Greenwich Theatre

 

Review: Tommy at Greenwich Theatre

He’s a pinball wizard…

From Barry Manilow lyrics to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s furry feline friends, there have certainly been some interesting choices of topic for our glitzy musical theatre. No more so than rock musical Tommy, currently playing at the Greenwich Theatre, London. The show takes its deaf, dumb and blind protagonist from The Who’s classic Pinball Wizard and produces their formidable Tommy album live on stage.

Hitting the theatres way before the likes of American Idiot or Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy was a groundbreaking piece in its original form and is now given a fresh and exciting revival by Michael Strassen. Slightly put back at first, we soon got used to the unique style of this production and we were toe tapping away and rooting for Ashley Birchall’s endearing Tommy long before the midway cocktail run.

Stylish and slick, Strassen places the story in a white wash wonderland reminiscent of 70s glam rock that could also be a timeless dystopian future. Complimenting the musical underscore to great effect, Strassen tells this obscure story clearly and fluidly with the help of the functional design and sparky cast.

The small ensemble of performers brought energy in abundance and soared through the roof with some fantastic rock vocals. Smaller moments worth mentioning include Carly Burn’s sensational Acid Queen and James Sinclair as Captain Walker, providing gravitas beyond his years. Nevertheless, all the cast had time to shine in Mark Smith’s show stopping choreography. Drawing on a Fosse inspired style, Smith’s work compliments the narrative, aiding the story whilst giving ample room for entertainment and joyous fun. The cast executed his technical movement brilliantly, keeping us truly engaged in those longer musical breaks.

Credit is also due to the band doing sufficient justice to The Who and bringing the house down to the very last note. Very rarely do we see an audience staying until the end of the play-out, let alone on their feet clapping, dancing and cheering like we’re at Wembley. But with the talent and energy on stage, rest assured we could have been!

Ticket information for Tommy can be found here.

GT gives Tommy – 4/5

Words Tom Cox


It's Raining Men down at Beyond Bollywood

Something to brighten your day…

Now open at the London Palladium, new musical Beyond Bollywood has a little treat for you all as we come out of the bank holiday weekend.

As featured in the show – and totally our favourite moment, obviously – the boys feature their own rendition of It’s Raining Men. And before you ask, no – it isn’t the Geri Halliwell version.

In true camp style, they lip sync through the track and serve true show business glamour, much to the applause of the audience.

Ticket information on how you can join the party can be found here. Beyond Bollywood remains at the London Palladium until 27 June.

Words William J Connolly, @wjconnolly

Book review: Only Heaven Knows by Alex Harding

reprinted from Gay Star Spring 1991.

Our resident dramturge (I think that’s the word) rather looked down his nose at this wee book.  I quite liked it.  The musical is set mostly in Sydney 1944, the early summer.  It is a sentinmental story of young (gay) love and of experience, in the form of a couple of middle-aged sissies.  That is about all there is to the whole thing – bot on the stage the whole thing has life and energy.

I’d recommend it to any group of gay people who might be thinking of putting on a show celebrating our lives – if you think this is a broad hint you might just be right

1990 Old Nick production of Alex Harding’s Musical “Only Heaven Know’s”