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British Theatre Guide: Jubilee Review, Lyric Hammersmith

February 22nd, 2018

jubilee18jThe late Derek Jarman had a reputation as an iconic but iconoclastic filmmaker but, even by his standards, Jubilee was eccentric and frequently any meanings were too deeply buried for common or garden viewers to mine. It is now probably best remembered for a cast that included punk idols Toyah Willcox and Adam Ant, along with a dedicated team from the acting profession amongst whom was the late Ian Charleson.

40 years on, Chris Goode has taken the original film script, which Jarman wrote with James Whaley, and updated it for a fresh generation. Give the new writer-director credit, what should have been an unintelligible, unruly mess is always over the top, frequently rather fun and conveys some timely messages to its audience today.

Many of those present will not even have been born in the days when punk threatened to change British society forever. Like Queen Elizabeth, whose pontifications along with those of her alchemist and necromancer John Dee and ethereal Ariel frame the modern scenes, it is merely a short historical note that may well have passed them by.

In a happy connection with the original, punk Queen Toyah Willcox embodies the Virgin Queen having played Mad on celluloid so long ago. She also provides one of the evening’s highlights with a brief but lively rendition of “I Want to Be Free”.

• Continue reading at British Theatre Guide. Review by Philip Fisher.

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