Wednesday, 9 February 2022

REVIEW: The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me at the New Wimbledon Theatre Studio

Last night, I was transported back in time to the buzz, thrills, and raw activism of 1980’s New York as I attend the press night performance of “The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me”, written by David Drake, directed by Steven Dexter, currently playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre Studio.  

As a gay, gender-questioning identifying individual, I have a rich passion for any LGBTQIA+ related theatre, topics and issues, literature, history, or art, therefore after exploring the context of this play, I was both intrigued and eager to delve back into the queer history books. 

Furthermore, what felt even more special was the fact that this piece is debuting and running during LGBT+ History Month here in the UK, therefore acting as a beautiful, yet haunting reminder of our past, and how many positive steps forward we have taken since. 

Delivered solely by John Bell, making his stage debut, the show follows the story of a young gay actor and his call to pride and activism in New York City during the onset of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s. Bell’s performance was jam-packed full of energy and commitment, and successfully delivered moments of heartwarming reflection on the importance of close personal connections with those we love. 

Often the difficulty with one-person shows is the ability to maintain a range of tones and emotions, overall creating a varied and engaging delivery of the material. While Bell was able to successfully do this to a degree, I would have loved to have seen more light and shade within elements of this performance, including the pace, and delivery to fully become immersed within the world of the characters. 

From the onset, a factor that came instantly apparent is the carefully and thoroughly developed design elements by David Shields, that beautifully echoed, reflected, amplified, and complimented Bell and his delivery of the script. While the set may have been simple, it was extremely effective and served as a versatile space to highlight multiple settings throughout the plot. 

Overall, this production has some poignant and exquisitely designed moments that invite you into a world of exploration, identity, and innocence. If you are looking for your theatrical fix this LGBT+ History Month then check it out. I look forward to seeing how the production develops throughout its run here in London.

Review by Adam Tipping 

Rating: ★★★

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