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Thursday, 18 August 2022

REVIEW: Cruise at the Apollo Theatre

AIDs and HIV were labelled ‘the gay disease’ and in our modern world we’ve now encountered monkeypox, another virus only being reported in members of the LGBTQ+ community. The attitude towards both these viruses, both in the 80s and the current day, are being mirrored. In a time where HIV rates are higher in heterosexual identifying people, we are still facing prejudice and are being targeted as a community. 

Cruise is based on a true story of Michael Spencer’s “last night on earth”. Told alongside the story of a young gay man working for Switchboard, crafted with intelligence, comedy, a rollercoaster of emotions and unique design elements, this play is an absolute hit. 

Friday, 21 May 2021

REVIEW: Cruise at the Duchess Theatre

When walking into the auditorium of the duchess the air felt somewhat electric. Audience members buzzed and hummed with palpable excitement. Theatre is back! And what a return... 

It is somewhat misleading to label ‘Cruise’ a one-man play. Jack Holden plays countless, hilariously specific and nuanced characters throughout the ninety-minute rollercoaster which are so well rounded, you often forget there’s only one actor on stage. What I particularly enjoyed about the piece was that it was written from the perspective of Holden, at age twenty-two working for the LGBTQ+ hotline- switchboard. Early on he tells his co-worker- Kevin- that sometimes he feels like he was born in the wrong era. That he should’ve been born in the eighties. A pale-faced Kevin responds with ‘you don’t’. This perspective places us immediately in the now, veering away from a more conventional, period approach to the HIV/ AIDS crisis. 

After a heavy night out and cocaine comedown, Jack is alone in the office after his colleagues fail to show up. He picks up the phone to Michael, and thus our story begins. Michael guides Jack through his exploits in Soho. We meet larger than life characters who give us an insight into the vibrant and grotty underworld of the gay scene in Soho. A personal shoutout goes to Polari Gregory who reminds Michael to just take it ‘one step at a time’ when he is struggling to deal with the loss of a loved one. It’s a beautifully still moment within the show, which you feel like Holden really earns after throwing himself around the stage for the past hour. 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

REVIEW: Cruise at Stream.Theatre (Online)

It’s 1988. It’s 2021. It’s the true story of how Michael Spencer experienced the Soho scene in the 80s.

Written and performed by Jack Holden, we are invited into a frenzied world of vibrant characters, shadowy nightlife, and sex and love. We meet Jack at 22 years old, answering the phones for the LGBTQIA+ helpline, Switchboard. From there we are dragged, kicking and screaming, through a soul-thumping story of love and loss, of joy and pain, of time and age.

Holden has penned this production with passion and precision, using his own experiences and the stories of a generation before to create a world that exists in the 80s and the present; performed in the warren of basement spaces under Shoreditch Town Hall. Holden’s use of body and voice (both speaking and his stunning tenor singing) to breathe life into a multitude of eccentric but utterly honest characters, is matched only by his exquisite command of text and language. The dialogue trips effortlessly from narrative to poetry in a way that I have never seen before.
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