Tag Archives: Alexis Gregory

Sex / Crime

Sex / Crime

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 22nd January 2020



“the energy on stage is palpable and infectious”


A PVC backdrop. Deep red sofa covered in plastic. A tray with two needles sitting poised for action. Banging music rings in your ears. The stage is set for a dark and disturbing evening that will question where pleasure ends and pain begins. A queer “American Psycho”? A messy murder mystery? The show in question is “Sex/Crime”, Alexis Gregory’s startlingly original new play returning to London at the Soho Theatre.

In thickly lyrical prose, “A” (Jonny Woo) and “B” (Gregory) meet in a mysterious room in a city in turmoil. Paying good money to have famous gay murders recreated on his body, “B” is prepared to be submissive, to give himself up to death and pleasure. “A”, offering him punches and slaps for a pre-arranged price, is clinical in his approach. But talk turns to “Him”, to the world outside, to love, to passion. “A”’s professional demeanour breaks down, and it isn’t long before the men’s roles take a surprising turn.

Woo gives an authoritative performance as “A”, his size bringing a unique presence to the low-ceilinged Upstairs theatre at Soho. Gregory is his ideal counterpart. Built with the shoulders of a bodybuilder, “B” is a high-pitched Londoner, almost camp, his movements precise and words even more so. Together, they make an excellent double act. The comedy rarely stops, and the references are topical. At one point Woo references EU regulations on breaks: “I’m holding on to those as long as I can” he notes, witheringly.

Directed by Robert Chevara, the two figures dance around each other, playing with distance and proximity with shocking effect. Movement is precise, pointed and poised. If things seem a little hyper-active, it matches the high octane, high adrenaline situation (not to mention all the drugs). Rocco Venna’s set leaves a strong impression in the imagination and Mike Robertson’s lighting design sees an almost clinical light beam up at the actors’ faces throughout. It’s certainly unsettling and gives those blackouts an added touch of menace.

The final third was where I started to wane, and the script seemed to lose a little bit of focus. What seemed grounded in a specific, yet unfamiliar, reality, falls away, making the final moments of twisting and turning a little less potent. Gorgeous as the finale of montages is, I wish it ended as punchy as it started.

This audience was in bits though, and hung on every moment. With strong leads and an even stronger sense of style, “Sex/Crime” is certainly an enjoyable spectacle. Dark comedy drips from the ceiling like PVC sheets and the energy on stage is palpable and infectious. As a new piece of writing, Gregory’s voice shines and is certainly one to keep an eye out for. “Riot Act” is still one of my favourite shows in recent years, and I can only wait with anticipation as to what original idea strikes Gregory next. In the meantime, do check out this explosive and surprising show while it’s here.


Reviewed by Robert Frisch

Photography by Matt Spike


Sex / Crime

Soho Theatre until 1st February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Tumulus | ★★★★ | April 2019
William Andrews: Willy | ★★★★★ | April 2019
Does My Bomb Look Big In This? | ★★★★ | May 2019
Hotter | ★★★★★ | May 2019
Citysong | ★★★★ | June 2019
The View Upstairs | ★★★ | July 2019
It All | ★★★ | August 2019
The Starship Osiris | ★★★★★ | August 2019
What Girls Are Made Of | ★★★★ | September 2019
Fitter | ★★★★★ | December 2019


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Riot Act

Riot Act

Arcola Theatre & UK Tour

Riot Act

Riot Act

Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 16th June 2019



“Gregory remains an incredibly watchable and powerful figure on stage”


Just under a year since its mesmerising turn at the King’s Head Theatre, ‘Riot Act’ is on the move. The Arcola Theatre plays host this time for three performances that commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, and the show will soon embark on a UK tour. I reviewed the show last year, and found it powerful, deeply moving and politically rousing. None of that has changed, and the show, along with writer and star Alexis Gregory, have only got better.

This is verbatim theatre utilising personal stories in the best way. Created from hours of interviews, we meet three gay men from three different generations: Michael, one of the last remaining witnesses to the Stonewall Riots; Lavinia, Hackney drag queen of the 70s; and Paul, Act Up activist and successful writer in his own right. These three stories come together to present a powerful collective experience. Struggles with identity and finding community. The freedom of gay liberation post-Stonewall. The unimaginable pain and suffering of the AIDS crisis. These oral histories give us tales beyond the mainstream. They ask us: what does it mean to be gay? What do we know about gay history? Do we take things for granted that in reality aren’t?

Paul’s message about “constant vigilance” seems even more potent in light of recent events. The cancelling of a performance of ‘Rotterdam’ in Southampton after stars Lucy Jane Parkinson and Rebecca Banatvala were pelted with stones. The headline grabbing attack on a London bus of Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend Chris. This show reminds us these aren’t random, but the continuation of a culture of intolerance we all know well. The question is: what can you do to change things?

Gregory remains an incredibly watchable and powerful figure on stage. He morphs effortlessly into the three characters using voice and stance to expertly delineate between them all. His speech rhythms also change – it’s real dedication to character on display here. Rikki Beadle-Blair directs, and the pair play around with lighting to create drama. Beadle-Blair allows Gregory to enjoy the comedic moments – and this audience was loving it. Laughter of surprise and recognition mixes in this vibrant and diverse audience. The show invites conversation. Speak to the person next to you! Ask them questions! Remember your shared history!

In all, ‘Riot Act’ remains one of the best queer shows I’ve seen in London. I’m so glad the rest of the UK will get chance to hear these stories and respond to them. How much are the metropolitan experiences of the men in the show shared by people from across the UK? What parallels will emerge? And what of the future of ‘Riot Act’? Gregory mentioned a ‘women’s riot act’ – so the future looks bright. Beautiful, engaging and moving, I recommend this show to everyone.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Dawson James


Riot Act

Arcola Theatre until 30th June then UK tour continues


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Rape of Lucretia | ★★★★ | July 2018
Elephant Steps | ★★★★ | August 2018
Greek | ★★★★ | August 2018
Forgotten | ★★★ | October 2018
Mrs Dalloway | ★★★★ | October 2018
A Hero of our Time | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Stop and Search | ★★ | January 2019
The Daughter-In-Law | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Little Miss Sunshine | ★★★★★ | April 2019
The Glass Menagerie | ★★★★ | May 2019


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