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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

REVIEW: The View UpStairs at The Soho Theatre

The View UpStairs by Max Vernon has just opened at The Soho Theatre on Dean Street. From the moment that casting was announced, I was desperate to see it, despite not having a clue what it was about or even what it was.

The show is an ‘interpretive account of a true event of a notoriously unsolved arson fire that took place at a gay bar called the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans on June 24th 1973.’ The first thing that should be said is the poignancy of this piece of theatre. Recently, there has been a massive increase in the production of ‘gay plays’ but the writing, from Max Vernon, in this particular piece, cleverly puts a spotlight on the lives of LGBTQ+ people in 1973 and 2019 , literally next to each other on stage. It also poses a serious, yet frightening question; is life as a minority these days that much better than it was back then? Yes, things have changed and evolved, but there is still such a safety concern for our community and lives being lost every day due to social media bullying and hate crime attacks amongst many other scary realities. 

Whilst the show has dark subject matter, it’s not depressing from beginning to end. In fact, it takes you on a bit of an emotional journey. A journey with lots of laughter. The majority of the laughter and joy comes from Henri, played by Carly Mercedes Dyer. A character with big hair, a big voice and a big attitude. Dyer nails both her comic timing and vocals throughout and leaves you wanting to know more about her story - her character being one of the least explored in this production. 
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