Seeing Jubilee last week was an invigorating experience; this play celebrates rebellion and generational agency. Chris Goode, the director, has highlighted the fact that queer people of color are speaking out against the status quo collectively and defiantly. Goode’s adaption is fresh yet similar to Jarman’s film in terms of the plot… Elizabeth I – played by Toyah Willcox, eerily observes the chaotic nature of this group of militant, over-sexed punks.
The play is set in a squat and is opened with a monologue from Amyl Nitrate, (the historian) performed by Travis Alabanza. From the very start it is clear that their motive is to provoke and disrupt normal conventions.
‘Welcome to “Jubilee”. An iconic film most of you have never even heard of, adapted by an Oxbridge twat for a dying medium, spoiled by millennials, ruined by diversity, and constantly threatening to go all interactive. You poor fuckers.’
The audience was also confronted with the naked embrace of the ‘brothers’, played by Tom Ross Williams and Croig Hamilton. Their bold confidence made it hard for some of the audience members who were seemed to be quite conservative, (you could feel the tension) which I found quite funny. Another highlight for me was Crabs, played by Rose Wardlaw as she was badass yet incredibly emotional, which made her character very believable. I also loved the epic synchronized dance to MIA’s Bad Girls.
The references to class issues in the art world, underground nightclubs and the involvement of queer performance art was interesting. Political issues such as Trump and the tragedy of Grenfell were spoken about which made it feel even more real. It wasn’t a fantasy – but a well thought out piece of work based on where we are now as a country, and where we are going.
The play was interactive – as an audience, we were confronted with what the young and crazy activists of our generation are saying right now. Issues such as gender roles, violence and monarchy were put into a modern frame. with a nod towards the social and historical context of the original film. Nihilist references were used in a way that were quite close to home, issues were raised that we can all relate to as a result of living in post-Brexit Britain. But on the other hand, this sense of despair, loss and violence was positively balanced. There was an enormous sense of hope and pride, in the supportive nature of their community.
Tickets available HERE
A Royal Exchange Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith and Chris Goode & Company production.
King St, London, W6 0QL