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Gay themes in Three New London Productions

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I'm just back from London. Saw a lot of theater but particularly want to mention three great productions of classic works that have been given gay themes. I've linked to a few reviews at bottom. You might catch the two plays, since they may be broadcast to cinemas. And I'm sure the ballet will make its way to America.

Present Laughter at the Old Vic: Brilliant production of Noel Coward's play about Garry Essendine, a self-obsessed actor surrounded by his peeps. In the original, the wife of one of his friends/associates conveniently loses her latchkey and appears on Garry's doorstep seeking a night's "shelter." In this brilliant version, the associate is a woman whose husband turns up on Garry's doorstep and gets a night's "shelter." (Garry's wife, who lives separately, is still a woman in this version.) Garry is played splendidly by the gorgeous and gay Andrew Scott. The production is the best version of the play I've seen, quite moving rather than just comic.



A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Nicholas Hytner in his new (and wonderful) Bridge Theatre. In the original text, Oberon (King of the Fairies) has Puck place a flower on the eyes of the sleeping Titania, which makes her fall in love with whomever she first sees when she awakes. (She awakes and sees Bottom, who has been turned into an a ss.) 

In this version, Puck works for Titania. She has Puck place the juice from the flower on the eyes of the sleeping Oberon, who awakes to fall in love with Bottom as an a ss. It works wonderfully well in this exquisite production. There is a hilarious scene with Oberon and Bottom taking a bubble bath together.


Gwendoline Christie (Titania); David Moorst (Puck); Oliver Chris (Oberon); Hammed Animashaun (Bottom)


Romeo and Juliet (Ballet, choreographed by Matthew Bourne. Sadler's Wells)

In this beautiful and heartbreaking dance version, there are many changes to the plot. The action takes place in the Verona Institute. There are no rival families. The gay theme relates to Mercutio, who has a boyfriend, Balthasar. (The printed programme clearly identifies Balthasar as "Mercutio's boyfriend.") They have a deeply moving love scene/dance, and later, when Tybalt kills Mercutio, Balthasar expresses his grief in a heartbreaking dance.






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Thank you for that, Jaragon, what a glorious commentary by Jackson Fisch! He was the dancer who played Balthasar when I saw the ballet on August 18. He played the role in London from August 7-18. The other cast took over from August 21-31. The tour resumes in Norwich next week. 



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