Posts Tagged ‘Northern Soul’

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.

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Mysterious Girl: Toyah talks to Northern Soul

December 14th, 2016

northernsoul16a“There is a mindset when it comes to competitive combat and I think I might have that.”

Toyah Willcox will always be associated with early 80s pop, punk and new romanticism – and that’s no bad thing. With her flaming sunset hair, rebellious lyrics and tribal synths, she is unforgettable. But what isn’t always remembered is that this versatile all-rounder has acted opposite greats like Sir Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn, worked for directors like George Cukor and Derek Jarman, and had success in children’s TV as Barmy Aunt Boomerang and as a narrator of Teletubbies.

Nevertheless, the call of the 80s is hard to resist and so, next Spring, Toyah will join Paul Young, Martika and China Crisis for the 80s Invasion tour. It’s a tempting proposition. But I wonder if Toyah’s boundless energy is still in good supply.

“That enthusiasm is just a natural part of who I am,” she says. “I don’t believe in working on anything half-heartedly. If people are good enough to work with you, you have to give them 150 per cent in return. You can’t become an actress and have limitations or boundaries, that just feels contradictory to me. Diversity is a very rewarding thing because you see different aspects of human life and come into contact with things that you would never have otherwise discovered. As a writer, that’s vital for me because we all tend to live in a bit of a bubble. With Teletubbies I was doing a favour for a friend who never thought it would ever see the light of day. Of course she couldn’t have been more wrong as it became one of the BBC‘s most successful programmes.”

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