Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

A Strange Loop @ Barbican Theatre...

After 1 hour 40 minutes we were breathless. Explosively imaginative, it was a dazzlingly one-of-a-kind experience.
Indeed, Michael R. Jackson's ground-breaking and critically acclaimed musical had burst onto the stage of the glitzy Barbican Theatre and last Saturday night Stuart and I were lucky enough to catch it.
Where to begin? 
Well, our hero (the fantastic Kyle Ramar Freeman) warns us at the start, "there will be butt-f*cking on stage. No, there really will" (well, there isn't but they make a good stab at pretending later on.)  But this is nothing compared to the explicit emotions, shockingly frank, beautifully poetic, honest to goodness love we get to experience. All though the power of a Broadway show.
Our hero is an usher at Lion King, called Usher, who is writing a musical... about an usher, who is writing a musical. Usher is "fat, black, and queer so get used to it" and takes no prisoners. 
Usher grapples with desires, identity and instincts he both loves and loathes, all brought to life on stage by the hilarious, straight-talking ensemble. Rather like in Disney's Inside Out they all play his 'thoughts'; one plays self-loathing, one plays sexual insecurity, another poor body image etc. And he argues with them. Constantly. The show is meta, post-modern, and fast-talking as the characters and the actors all interact.
So yes, A Strange Loop is a satire. A satire of Broadway. And of culture and of politics - in particular from a black queer perspective. Songs like "Inner White Girl" skewer privilege according to their race and gender. In fact, A Strange Loop pokes fun at things like Hamilton, Grindr, white feminism "Second Wave", religion, bigotry, 'race traitors', racism is the LGBT+ community "Exile in Gayville", the over-bearing expectations from other existing black success stories to match up, white audiences, black audiences, you name it! 
"Can we use the n-word on stage?" one thought asks. "How can we not!" another replies.
It's fast. It's furious. And it's very, very funny.  
Kyle Ramar Freeman as Usher is fabulous. His thoughts (1 - 6); played by Sharlene Hector, Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea, Yeukayi Ushe, Tendai Humphrey Sitima, Danny Bailey and Eddie Elliott; equally so.
If you get a chance, go see.

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