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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.

Tameside Reporter: Royal Date for Queen of Punk Toyah

November 18th, 2017

jubilee17mIt’s your last chance to catch Toyah Willcox in Jubilee at The Royal Exchange which shows until Saturday, November 18.

Jubilee has been adapted for the stage and directed by Chris Goode and company from the original 1978 screenplay by Derek Jarman and James Whaley.  The play features legendary punk warrior Toyah Willcox, one of the film’s iconic original cast members who leads the cast as Queen Elizabeth 1 and marks the 40th Anniversary.  Jubilee is more than a play – it is an apocalyptic nihilistic spectacle of the past and future.

The enigmatic Toyah Willcox as Queen Elizabeth 1 time-travels into a contemporary dystopian Britain, observing from the theatre balcony and addressing the spectators with interludes of poetic verse.

Designer Chloe Lamford creates a backdrop of punk anarchy with Union Jacks and graffiti transporting us back to the punk era. Social comment and political references punctuated throughout the production, including the Grenfell Tower tragedy: “Tower blocks are an efficient mechanism for killing poor people”.

• Continue reading at the Tameside Reporter. (Photo © Johan Persson)

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)

North West End: Jubilee – Royal Exchange, Manchester

November 10th, 2017

nwe17aAnother five star review of Jubilee at Royal Exchange, Manchester – This one by Joe Flynn at North West End.

On the 40th year anniversary of the iconic punk film the Royal Exchange wrench Jubilee squealing and with a knife to its throat into 2017. Exploring political unrest, social inequality via themes of race, ability, sex, gender and class to name but a few, throw in a failed justice system and Jubilee highlights how our modern world has learnt no lessons from history and the real references to today’s world are tragically abundant.

The story is of a murderous subculture gang taking back control of their own desires and delivering their very own flavour of justice. They are surveyed by original Jubilee cast member and punk girl icon Toyah Willcox, playing a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth who is serenely guided by an angel to witness their turmoil and ultimate plight of selling-out. Willcox’s presence onstage was a comforting link to the bygone anarchy of the 70’s and 80’s but didn’t really feel like a crutch; Chris Goode’s adaptation is true to the original but still painfully relevant to 2017.

• Continue reading at North West End.

Jubilee: Toyah’s Message to Derek Jarman

November 10th, 2017

Within the fabric of the set….my hidden message to Derek Jarman“. (Photo © Toyah Willcox)

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Upstaged Manchester: Review: Jubilee (Royal Exchange Theatre)

November 9th, 2017

usmanc17aJubilee is a riot. From the slogans spray-painted on to plywood surrounding the Royal Exchange’s in-the-round space to the chaotic way the cast commandeer the stage, it is obvious from the start that this is no ordinary night at the theatre.

An adaption of Derek Jarman’s punk film from the 1970s, Jubilee revolves around Amyl Nitrate (Travis Alabanza) and her loose collective of societal outcasts. As Amyl, Alabanza is a revelation – her heartfelt, angry, intelligent monologues are highlights of the show and I have never witnessed someone engage an audience more skilfully.

Forty years on from starring as Mad in the film, Toyah Willcox plays Elizabeth I. She spends most of the time presiding over the production from a throne on the first gallery with very little to say, but the moments when she does speak allow for welcome periods of calm – something you won’t find anywhere else in the show.

• Continue reading at Upstaged Manchester.

Attitude: Review: Jubilee at Royal Exchange Theatre

November 9th, 2017

attitude16aIt’s always wonderful to see Toyah Willcox on stage. Often remembered solely for her pop career, Toyah is also an actress. In 1977 she filmed Jubilee, Derek Jarman’s brutal meditation on the state of a Britain that was being soaked in royalist propaganda to mark 25 years of Elizabeth II’s reign. Toyah played an orange-haired pyromaniac called Mad. In Chris Goode’s new stage adaptation and updating of Jarman’s film, she plays Elizabeth I.

The forty year in between has seen the world transformed and the sometimes progressive, sometimes violently anarchic world of punk has been utterly transcended. Reviving punk for now and updating what many regard a seminal cult classic was always going to be an enormous challenge. Goode takes it on bravely but perhaps not boldly enough.

• Continue reading at Attitude.

The Guardian: Jubilee Review

November 8th, 2017

guardian17bJubilee review – rude and raucous return for Jarman’s punk pageant

Chris Goode directs Toyah Willcox in a wild reimagining of Derek Jarman’s film about a time-travelling queen and a generation with no future

‘Welcome to Jubilee,” says Amyl Nitrate near the start of Chris Goode’s reimagining of Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk movie. The straight-talking Amyl, played on stage by the mesmerising transgender performer Travis Alabanza, tells us what to expect: “An iconic film most of you have never heard of, adapted by an Oxbridge twat for a dying medium, spoiled by millennials, ruined by diversity, and constantly threatening to go interactive.”   That just about sums it up, and if you go with the flow you will be taken on a wild theatrical experience that knows exactly what it is doing, even at its most cracked, rude and raucous. This is smart work, spikily and lovingly performed.

Toyah Willcox, who starred in Jarman’s original film, sounds cheekily like Judi Dench in the role of Queen Elizabeth I, presiding over a day trip to the future conjured by court astrologer Dr Dee (Harold Finley).

• Continue reading at The Guardian.

British Theatre Guide: Jubilee Review

November 8th, 2017

btg17aOn 4 June 1976 at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall, the Sex Pistols played a gig voted (along with Woodstock and Live Aid) as one of the most influential of all time; thousands claim to have been in the 150-capacity venue, which was less than a third full, but some of those who were went on to form massively influential bands such as Buzzcocks, The Smiths, The Fall and Joy Division / New Order, not to mention Factory Records and The Haçienda.

A year later, the Queen had her Silver Jubilee in the year Never Mind The Bollocks was released (“God save the Queen / The fascist regime”), then in 1978 punk had its own Jubilee in the form of Derek Jarman’s film of that name, starring some major punk and alternative music figures including Toyah, Adam Ant, Siouxsie Sioux, Richard O’Brien, Little Nell, Jordan and Lindsay Kemp.

Toyah Willcox returns to the world of Jubilee but this time as Queen Elizabeth I, whose magician John Dee (Harold Finley) conjures up the spirit Ariel (Lucy Ellinson) – it gets quite Shakespearean in a few places – to transport her forwards in time, not to the broken, depressed streets of the 1970s but straight to the squat of Amyl Nitrate and her fellow residents, now translated into the 21st century.

• Continue reading at British Theatre Guide.

What’s On Stage: Review: Jubilee (Manchester Royal Exchange)

November 8th, 2017

wostage16aToyah Willcox stars in Chris Goode’s 40th anniversary production

There is an innate theatricality to Derek Jarman’s cult film. A punk classic celebrating its 40th anniversary next year, Jubilee zaps Queen Elizabeth I into a destitute contemporary Britain. Buckingham Palace has been sold off to a music label and turned into recording studios. The rest of the country has been left to rot and, in the wastelands, anarchic girl gangs and queer artists run riot, shagging and killing anything in sight. They could be the sisters of Anthony Burgess’ droogs – just better dressed.

Designer Chloe Lamford turns the whole Royal Exchange into their squat. Union Jacks are strewn from the balconies. Graffiti is scrawled all over the walls so that political slogans and swearwords fight for space.

• Continue reading at What’s On Stage.

The Telegraph: Jubilee, Royal Exchange, Manchester, Review

November 8th, 2017

telegraph16aNihilism, nudity, no future: Derek Jarman’s bleak Britain comes pungently to the stage – Jubilee, Royal Exchange, Manchester, review

How do you take a defining film from the punk era and reconceive it for the stage, 40 years on, when the V-flicking message of punk was “no future”?

Derek Jarman’s 1978 vision of Britannia sinking below the waves during the flag-waving year of the Silver Jubilee revelled in images of dystopian collapse: post-industrial wastelands, dismal interiors that no yet-to-be-conceived TV makeover programme could spruce up, random acts of senseless violence. It was Beckett’s Endgame meets A Clockwork Orange, with melancholy traces of Shakespeare – and it was designed to look like the end of the world was nigh.

Yet here we now are, and many of the gobbing youths of yesteryear turned out fine, some of them doing very nicely indeed thanks to the Thatcher revolution (Malcolm McLaren, “godfather” of punk, at least had the grace and courage to acknowledge that, recalling a “failed, miserable country” before her arrival).

• Continue reading at The Telegraph.

The Stage: This Week’s Best Theatre Shows

November 7th, 2017

stage17bThis week’s best theatre shows: Our critics’ picks (November 7)

Jubilee – Royal Exchange, Manchester

Chris Goode’s new stage adaptation of Derek Jarman’s iconic chronicle of the 1970s punk scene opens in Manchester on November 7. Promising to be a remix for a new generation it stars Toyah Willcox, who also appeared in the original.

• Continue reading at The Stage.

Jubilee @ RET, Manchester: Final Preview

November 7th, 2017

The final preview of Jubilee took place at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester last night. View production shots of Toyah as Queen Elizabeth I at Twitter and Instagram. Click below to book tickets. (Photo © Johan Persson)

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Jubilee 2017/2018: Newsy Bits & Pieces!

November 6th, 2017

jubilee18bWest End Theatre: Toyah Willcox to star in stage adaptation of punk film Jubilee: Legendary punk warrior and actress Toyah Willcox will star in a stage adaption of Derek Jarman’s seminal punk film Jubilee. Forty years after Jarman’s film captured punk at its giddy height, the new stage adaption remixes it for the social and political turmoil of 2017 – Continue reading…

Creative Tourist: Unmissable things to do in Manchester and the North: Jubilee at the Royal Exchange – It’s 40 years since the heyday of the punk movement. An anarchic expression of contempt for society’s stagnation, it produced some of the most interesting (and angriest) music of the ‘70s, much of which has stood the test of time. Now the Royal Exchange is turning one of the iconic films of the era – Jubilee – into a theatre piece, complete with spikey punk soundtrack – Continue reading…

The Telegraph: Cast of play rebels over reference to Myra Hindley as a ‘hero’, forcing director to delete lines: Toyah Willcox, who was in the film and is now in the play, said that using the lines in the city where Hindley and Ian Brady operated would have “undermined the whole play” – Continue reading…

BBC News: Manchester theatre cuts Myra Hindley hero-worship lines: A new play in Manchester has cut lines about Moors Murderer Myra Hindley being “a true artist” and a “hero” for fear of offending the audience. The 1978 punk film Jubilee has been adapted for the Royal Exchange theatre – Continue reading…

The Guardian: Don’t condemn sound judgment as PC behaviour: A stage production of Derek Jarman’s 1978 film, Jubilee, has had lines removed where a character expresses admiration for Myra Hindley… Toyah Willcox, who was in the film, and now appears in the play, was against retaining the lines and made the point that Jarman would have originally included them for shock value – Continue reading…

The Stage: Chris Goode

November 1st, 2017

stage16aChris Goode: Everything I know about theatre, I learned first from Derek Jarman

Almost everything I think I know about theatre, I learned from someplace else. Sometimes it’s just easier to spot the clues about theatre that are encoded in some other kind of event or relationship. You glancingly recognise something and immediately know you want to take it into your next rehearsal room.

Something about the obliqueness of the angle matches the radical hospitality of theatre. The understanding that the wholly new and unexpected is ready to rush in and surround us, if only we can remember that we come to theatre not to make things, but to make spaces for things to happen in.

Several years ago, I wrote a blog post ridiculously entitled “The young anarchosyndicalist’s guide to theatre space”…

• Continue reading at The Stage.

Royal Exchange Theatre: Dreaming With Open Eyes

October 30th, 2017

jubilee17hDreaming With Open Eyes – The Films of Derek Jarman

In many ways, it is surprising that Chris Goode’s realisation of Jubilee, Derek Jarman’s 1977 state-of-the-nation punk film fantasia, is the first adaptation for the theatre of an original work by the late, great artist, director, writer, designer, activist and gardener.

There are many lenses through which one can consider this hugely influential maker and his prolific, fecund and diverse oeuvre, but the ‘theatrical’ is certainly absolutely central to Jarman’s vision of creative possibility, regardless of the medium in question.

Even before one encounters his work – and this is most resonant for those who actually met him – the ‘staging’ of his persona, his declared ‘self’, a dynamically creative gay man in a generally hostile culture, suggested how importantly he viewed the productive tensions implicit within the very idea of theatre: I am, and am not, the person I present. This extended to his choice of living space, at once private and public, from the pioneering loft on London’s Bankside to his final years at Prospect Cottage on the windswept shingle of Dungeness.

• Continue reading at the Royal Exchange Theatre.

About Manchester: Derek Jarman’s Cult Punk Film Is Remixed

October 28th, 2017

jubilee17f40 Years On Derek Jarman’s Cult Punk Film Is Remixed For The Social And Political Turmoil Of 2017

A free-spirited, gloriously rude, take-no-prisoners blast of a show with a soundtrack to die for. Marking the 40th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s iconic film, the Royal Exchange’s world premiere of Chris Goode’s stage adaptation of Jubilee is sure to appeal to young punks, old punks, and anyone who’s ever wanted to set the world on fire.

A marauding girl gang are on a killing spree and a time-travelling Queen Elizabeth I, played by original film cast member and legendary punk warrior Toyah Willcox, observes it all. An electrifying ensemble cast, including Lucy Ellinson as Ariel and Travis Alabanza as Amyl reimagine JUBILEE for a 2017 audience. A co-production with Chris Goode & Company this riot of a show will run from 2 – 18 November.

• Continue reading at About Manchester.

Financial Times: The Spirit of Punk

October 28th, 2017

ftimes17aThe spirit of punk — and ‘Jubilee’ — lives on

In director Derek Jarman’s cult punk film Jubilee (1978), three characters stand on a London rooftop considering some high-rise housing. “Never lived beneath the 14th floor till I was old enough to run away,” says Sphinx, a young man who lives in a squat, played by Welsh actor Karl Johnson. “Everything was regulated in that tower block . . . didn’t know I was dead until I was 15 . . . my generation’s the blank generation.”

• Continue reading at the Financial Times.

Jubilee/SwipeRight: Toyah is QE1/Dr. Bennett

October 28th, 2017

Two great pics of Toyah in character/preparation as Queen Elizabeth I for Jubilee onstage, and Dr. Bennett in the forthcoming film SwipeRight. (Photos © Toyah Willcox)

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Jubilee @ Manchester: Newsy Bits & Pieces!

October 28th, 2017

jubilee17gOpening Night: There’s less than a week until Jubilee opens at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. Click here to book tickets.

QEI: Toyah will play Queen Elizabeth I in the production.

BBC Breakfast: Toyah guested on BBC Breakfast on Wednesday to discuss the production.

Toyah @ Twitter: Yesterday Toyah tweeted: “Less than a week to opening. So excited. We are now in the space & learning our routes around this extraordinary theatre.”

Royal Exchange Theatre: Inside Rehearsals… Week 3 of Jubilee – Alex Hurst – Observer Mondays Director – gives us an insight into the third week of rehearsals for Jubilee, directed by Chris Goode – Continue reading…

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