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The Arts Desk: Derek Jarman Collection

March 30th, 2018

theartsdesk18aBlu-ray: Derek Jarman Collection, Vol One 1972-1986

Voyage through an alchemical universe: the magical realm of a flawed English genius

This BFI boxset of Derek Jarman films from the first phase of his career, brilliantly curated by William Fowler, is an exemplary package: a treasure trove of extras accompanies his first six features, here presented in re-mastered form, and a thorough, well-illustrated and thought-provoking 80-page booklet with extensive material about the films and a wealth of essays.

The collection makes it possible to follow the evolution of Jarman as a film-maker, always riding the wave of creative and mould-breaking adventure, from the mysteries of In the Shadow of the Sun (1981), a film that built on much of Jarman’s super-8mm footage from the 1970s, the controversial Sebastiane (1976), through to the explosive punk-inspired politics of Jubilee (1978), followed by The Tempest (1979), surely one of the best adaptations of Shakespeare on film, the avant-garde rigour and homo-erotic delirium of The Angelic Conversation (1985), and the assured and more straightforward account of the rebellious life of the painter Caravaggio.

• Continue reading at The Arts Desk. Read further info on this release here.

Exeunt Magazine: Review: Jubilee at the Lyric Hammersmith

March 4th, 2018

jubrev18aNO FUTURE: Brendan Macdonald reviews Chris Goode’s stage version of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee

“It’s funny isn’t it? In 1977, someone shouting NO FUTURE sounded like the most extreme nihilistic punk. Forty years on, it’s a fact. It’s mainstream climate science.”

As Amyl Nitrate (played by Travis Alabanza) perceives, ‘NO FUTURE’ was once a rallying cry of the punk movement, not just a closing refrain to a Sex Pistols anthem. It spoke of a stark fatalism imbued with fury, frustration, and a deep distrust in the current status quo. Chris Goode’s adaptation of Derek Jarman’s 1978 film Jubilee toys with this articulation, hurtling the punk movement into a future that seemingly shouldn’t exist, to see how it survives.

Goode’s adaptation spars with Jarman’s film, keeping faithful to the central tenets of the piece while modernizing it to reflect the current age. It’s messy, chaotic, sex-fueled, and driven more by affect than narrative. Queen Elizabeth I, brilliantly played by one of the film’s original stars Toyah Willcox, travels to the present day with the help of Lucy Ellinson’s Ariel, and passively witnesses the countercultural energy that’s brewing beneath 21st century neoliberal consumerism.

• Continue reading at Exeunt Magazine. Read Exeunt Magazine’s review of Jubilee at Royal Exchange, Manchester, here.

Camden New Journal: Review: Jubilee, at Lyric Hammersmith

March 4th, 2018

jubrev18bChris Goode’s riotous adaptation of Derek Jarman’s seminal film about anarchy in the UK is not for the faint hearted. Featuring simulated sex, unrestrained nudity and mindless acts of violence, this provocative stage version will undoubtedly divide audiences, just as Jarman did in 1978.

Toyah Willcox, who starred as the pyromaniac Mad in the film version, now plays Queen Elizabeth I observing the excesses of a group of friends sharing a squat in Brexit Britain.

Amyl Nitrate (an electrifying performance by Travis Alabanza) serves as our emcee for the evening. Sexual predator Crabs (Rose Wardlaw) lures unsuspecting men home where they often meet a brutal and untimely end, while Bod (Sophie Stone) is the murderous de facto leader of the gang, Ariel, an ethereal presence (Lucy Ellinson), links segments and time.

• Continue reading at the New Camden Journal. (Review by Lucy Popescu)

Jubilee @ Lyric Hammersmith: Further Reviews

February 27th, 2018

jubilee17mCulture Whisper: From the royal box, the time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I (Toyah Willcox, who played pyromaniac teenager Mad in the the original film 40 years ago) lords over proceedings like a dutiful monarch at the Royal Variety Show – and make no mistake, Jubilee is as perfectly random as the Royal Variety. It wilfully defies all theatrical convention, addressing the audience and breaking the wall to provide a sneering commentary on its own construction – Continue reading at Culture Whisper…

Boyz Magazine: However it is the presence of Toyah Willcox, an original cast member of the 1977 film, who plays Elizabeth I, that really gives this show weight. Her command of the role is extraordinary and as the show draws to a close its fitting that one of her own songs closes the proceedings. Crazy stuff! – Continue reading at Boyz Magazine…

Essential Surrey: This provocative and theatrical show reinvents Jarman’s Jubilee for the present day, whilst clearly still clinging onto the punk subculture it was based on. Characterised by anti-establishment views and general anarchy, it is every bit as loud and aggressive as you would expect. The play opens in the same manner as the film with Queen Elizabeth I, starring original cast member Toyah Willcox, time travelling forward into a bleak and destitute contemporary Britain – Continue reading at Essential Surrey…

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Stage Review: In the film Toyah Willcox played angry rebel, Mad. Now the 59-year-old punk princess has been elevated to Queen Elizabeth I and she spends most of the production in the theatre’s royal box, watching the action on stage, occasionally breaking into monologues. The Queen is given a vision of the future, and its dystopian desolation initially fills her with pain, before she finds herself sympathising with the group’s radical social commentary – Continue reading at Stage Review…

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A Younger Theatre: Jubilee is superb in its metatheacricality, realising the elements of stagecraft present within Jarman’s film. The script cleverly observes the forty years of cultural change since ’77 and is playful in its interaction with members of the audience. It is absurd, with a peculiar, ravenous kind of beauty and it will leave you craving a cigarette lit by a blaze fiercer than hell on earth – Continue reading at A Younger Theatre…

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The Upcoming: Chris Goode’s stage adaptation of Derek Jarman and James Whaley’s cult classic punk film, Jubilee (1978), can only be described as a wild ride. Semi-plotless, kinky and violent, Jubilee the play is a vintage punk romp amended to include a far more diverse cast, and to rail against today’s troubling political climate, both at home and abroad. Indeed, it seems only natural to apply that old punk rage to 2018, and the violent dystopia that we’re presented with is often all too believable – Continue reading at The Upcoming…

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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.

Time Out: Jubilee Review, Lyric Hammersmith

February 22nd, 2018

timeout16aA fiercely powerful staging of Derek Jarman’s punk classic

People have been pontificating on what punk is – if it’s sold out, if it’s dead – pretty much since it showed up. So I’m not going to join them. Except to say that if anyone’s keeping the ripped Union Jack flag flying, it’s got to be queer people of colour who are risking everything to live outside the rules of a heteronormative, post-Brexit society. Chris Goode’s play, transferring to Lyric Hammersmith after opening at Royal Exchange Manchester, gets this. He reimagines Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk cult movie ‘Jubilee’ just enough to make it speak to today, but leaves its wild nihilist momentum intact.

It’s set in a squat (although this being 2018, it’s probably a warehouse share) where the cast bicker, wheel a pram on fire around, violently demolish the patriarchy, rewrite history, and watch YouTube videos. Travis Alabanza (playing Amyl Nitrate, the group’s historian) brings us up to speed on this show’s world, and pretty much anticipates every possible criticism of it: ‘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.’

• Continue reading at Time Out. Review by Alice Saville.

The Independent: Jubilee Review, Lyric Hammersmith

February 22nd, 2018

independent15aJubilee, Lyric, Hammersmith, London, review: In the Lyric Hammersmith’s fine tradition of reanimating controversial classics

Chris Goode’s stage adaptation of Derek Jarman’s 1977 punk classic ‘Jubilee’, recasts Toyah Willcox who played Mad in the film, as Queen Elizabeth I, who time-travels to today

“It’s funny, isn’t it?” says Amyl Nitrate, towards the end of the end of Chris Goode’s raucous, shrewd and free-wheelingly rude re-imagining of Derek Jarman’s cult movie.  “In 1977, someone shouting “NO FUTURE” sounded like the most extreme nihilistic punk.  Forty years on, it’s a fact.  It’s mainstream climate science.”  To mark the ruby jubilee of Jubilee (1978), Goode’s stage version — a co-production between his company, the Lyric, Hammersmith and Manchester’s Royal Exchange — does more than pay tribute to the inherent theatricality in Jarman’s apocalyptic vision or recreate the paradoxical ethos of a broken Britain sodden with royalist propaganda during that flag-waving year.

• Continue reading at The Independent. Review by Paul Taylor.

GScene: Jubilee Review, Lyric Hammersmith

February 22nd, 2018

gscene18aChris Goode’s adaptation of Derek Jarman and James Whaley’s Jubilee was a ravenously sex-fueled and unvarnished representation of the state that the world is in.

It assures to have one question if royalty or religion are still relevant in an ever-changing society.

Toyah Willcox goes from rebel to regal as she makes a comeback having played Mad in the original movie and now bringing delightful grace to the stage as Elizabeth I. Unsurprisingly she owns every second of her role as an onlooker from the past. Jubilee’s blatant dialogue and minimal use of symbolism makes for a refreshing take on what are usually controversial topics. It is explicit beginning to end and makes no apologies for it.

• Continue reading at GScene. Review by Tin Nguyen.

Broadway World: Jubilee Review, Lyric Hammersmith

February 22nd, 2018

jubilee18hCheck out Broadway World’s five star review of Jubilee at the Lyric Hammersmith – “Sexy, riotous, celebratory and a bloody good night out“.

Jubilee is an event that fucks with every theatrical convention, but it also provokes its audience in the most important way. Derek Jarman’s iconic film has been adapted for the stage by Chris Goode, centring around a marauding girl gang on a killing spree and a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I – telling a story of what happens when creativity and nihilism collide.

The company hold nothing back – be it via nudity, crassness or direct address, they actively attempt to make you feel something. And I imagine you’ll feel a lot, even if it’s the sensation of being uncomfortable. Which is good; you should be.

After the interval you can tell who the non-progressive, potentially prejudicial people were in the audience. As Act Two begins many seats are now empty. People have left due to their own insecurities and biases around seeing naked flesh on stage, or as Travis Alabanza calls it, “one too many ballsacks”.

• Continue reading at Broadway World. Review by Alistair Wilkinson. (Photo © Tristram Kenton – Visit the Lyric Hammersmith’s Facebook page to see a great gallery of Tristram’s Jubilee production photos)

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Exeunt Magazine: Review: Jubilee at Royal Exchange, Manchester

November 18th, 2017

exeunt17aNo future: Catherine Love reviews Chris Goode’s furiously intelligent take on the punk movie classic.

Punk is dead. Long live punk.

When director Derek Jarman released Jubilee in 1978, punk had already scaled its zenith and was starting to tumble down the other side. The Sex Pistols had just split. The controversy of ‘God Save The Queen’ had come and gone. Thatcher was lurking just beyond the horizon.

Chris Goode’s version – more of a playful wrestle with Jarman’s film than an adaptation of it – asks what punk means now, four decades after it had its moment. By the time I was aware of punk in the late 90s, it was already nostalgia. Now, in 2017, it’s distant yet present. It’s Johnny Rotten in butter adverts. It’s mohawks and safety pins at fancy dress parties. It’s the Sex Pistols on the radio.

Jarman’s film suggested that everyone would sell out in the end, and punk proved him right. That abandoning of revolutionary stances and evacuating of radical gestures is worried away at throughout Goode’s reimagining. His Jubilee is firmly located in the now – the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s uranium jubilee, according to protagonist Amyl Nitrite (queer performance artist Travis Alabanza) – and picks at contemporary scabs. Is there still any sort of resistance in nihilism at a time when the film’s defiant cry of “no future” feels more and more like a simple statement of truth?

• Continue reading at Exeunt Magazine.

Louder Than War: Jubilee: Manchester, Royal Exchange – Review

November 18th, 2017

louderthanwar17aJubilee, originally a film by Derek Jarman released in 1978 is updated for the 21st century at The Royal Exchange, Manchester. Nigel Carr reports back for Louder Than War.

Denounced by Vivienne Westwood at the time of its original release in 1978 as failing to represent punk, Derek Jarman’s Jubilee was a social statement on the breakdown of modern society. Anarchy ruled, policemen got firebombed and Queen Elizabeth, transported from the sixteenth century by the occultist John Dee, surveyed a decaying dystopian, modern Britain.

Fast forward forty years and ‘nothing has changed’, ‘nothing has worked’. Gloriously narrated by Travis Alabanza’s Amyl Nitrate, the themes are brought bang up to date in a dense, visceral allegory of a still decaying Britain with references as disparate as Brexit, Grenfell – ‘Tower blocks are built to kill the poor’ and ‘Isis, Isis Isis!’

• Continue reading at Louder Than War.

Northern Soul: Review: Jubilee, Royal Exchange, Manchester

November 18th, 2017

northernsoul17aThe 1978 punk film Jubilee set out to shock with violence, nudity and strong language. Nearly 40 years later, the 2017 play features more of the same but shocks for a different reason.

Why is this? Well, thanks in no small part to social media, we’ve become immune. Numb to almost all of it. Punk’s original prophecies have been realised.

At Manchester’s Royal Exchange, ideas, beliefs and concepts are chillingly recited, followed by the angry cry that each “does not work” You can almost hear Johnny Rotten scowl “no future” somewhere in the distance.

Which bring us to Toyah Willcox, the link between old and new. Forty years on from playing pyromaniac Mad in the film, she presides over proceedings (and Derek Jarman’s legacy) as Queen Elizabeth I, surveying a broken Britain terrorised by a generation with no moral compass. Her presence adds just the right amount of gravitas and authenticity to a piece dominated by a young fearless cast.

Travis Alabanza is a charismatic, stand-out as Amyl Nitrate, MC of this horridly exhilarating circus, effortlessly drawing you in with a spiky blend of insults and charm. Comic lines are placed with precision. Despite the bleakness, there are laughs among the splinters. It’s a risky balancing act but the humour translates far more effectively here than it ever did in the cinema.

• Continue reading at Northern Soul.

Unrestricted Views: Jubilee, Royal Exchange

November 18th, 2017

jubilee17f“We should all be angry. Why aren’t we angry all the time?”

Derek Jarman’s classic punk film Jubilee was released in 1977. I hated it. Bewildered and repelled in equal measure, I just didn’t ‘get it’. Forty years on, I find myself sitting in the Royal Exchange theatre to watch Chris Goode’s stage adaptation. Although aware of a definite sense of trepidation, I am also excited at the prospect of a ‘free-spirited, gloriously rude, take-no-prisoners blast of a show’ (as the publicity describes it).

The pre-set establishes an almost magical mood, and the dissonant elements signal that this production intends to be faithful to Jarman’s original, bewildering vision; the theatre is adorned with graffiti and a strange, ghostly, wordless singing echoes around the space. ‘Queen Elizabeth’ (played by Torah Willcox) sits at a desk, peering into a vanity mirror while a shabby mattress lies stranded on the floor nearby.

The first scene involves a Shakespearian exchange between the Queen and her advisor, in which the angel Ariel is invoked and appears on the stairs, dressed in true punk attire and hair-style. Then, as they withdraw to survey what follows from the First Gallery, some 1970s-type streetlights descend from the ceiling and the main characters explode onto the stage; ‘Mad’, toting her gun, ‘Angel’ and ‘Sphinx’ (two brothers) who immediately strip each other naked and roll around incestuously on the shabby mattress, and ‘Crabs’, revelling in a shopping trolley. It is loud and wild and angry and ‘in-yer-face’ – and dares us to be offended or shocked or amused or exhilarated (or all of the above.) So far, so Derek Jarman. But it is the introduction of Travis Alabanza’s ‘Amyl Nitrate’ that brings Jarman’s Jubilee into 2017. Throughout the show, Alabanza delivers some blistering political diatribes, reflecting on last forty years with icy panache and passion. Addressing the audience directly, it is also she who introduces self-awareness into the proceedings, fully acknowledging the irony of this celebration of punk anarchy and vitriol being unleashed on a polite, middle-class theatre audience.

• Continue reading at Unrestricted Views.

Live Art Alive: Jubilee Review

November 18th, 2017

jubilee17gThe interior walls of the Royal Exchange Theatre are densely covered in graffiti. The music is ramped up – this is not Royal Exchange noise levels – this is JUBILEE. The stage is set with Toyah Willcox at her dressing table as Queen Elisabeth I regally pondering the future.

This is 40 years on from her anarchic role as Mads in the original Derek Jarman film. Having seen the original as a young teenager and promptly calling one of the family cats kittens after Toyah this feels like time travel for more than just Elisabeth I. Looking around the actual Royal Exchange  theatre it feels like we could be in a time travel machine. I half expected Amyl Nitrate and her girl gang to seal in the audience with barbed wire and Union Jack flag poles.

This adaptation by Chris Goode is faithful to the original film. The production is brought up to date by references to Cameron, Trump, Brexit and music tracks like Bad Girls by M.I.A but it maintains Jarman’s messy, anarchic “have a go” punk ethic.

• Continue reading at Live Art Alive.

The Observer: Jubilee Review – Anarchy in the UK, 2017 Style

November 13th, 2017

jubilee17lWith its ‘no future’ message, Chris Goode’s riotous update of Derek Jarman’s punk film Jubilee rings true

Of course it is meant to be a mess. A coherent, rational or beguiling version of Derek Jarman’s punk picture of England, Jubilee, would be not simply a paradox but stage suicide. Sometimes Chris Goode’s new theatrical version – directed by the writer to mark the movie’s 40th anniversary next year – does feel like a sort of death. “We’ve lost a few people,” Travis Alabanza’s Amyl Nitrate pointed out, looking at the audience after the interval on press night. A bit of me went with them. But the leavers missed something. There are throughout jolts and jokes. And the swifter, more urgent second half has moments that can spin you around.

… It was clever in this anniversary of a jubilee to cast Toyah Willcox – who played Mad in the film – as a witty ruffed-up Gloriana, getting her handy magician John Dee to summon up visions, and towards the end joyously bursting into I Want to Be Free.

• Continue reading at The Observer. (Photo © Johan Persson)