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And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens – 4 Stars

Stories

And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens

King’s Head Theatre

Reviewed – 15th August 2018

★★★★

“a stunning piano and vocal set that frames the first act”

 

Seeing this passionate and surprising play by Tennessee Williams – unperformed during his lifetime – is reminiscent of a moment that happens towards the end of Russell T. Davies’ ‘A Very English Scandal’. “I can only speculate,” says Hugh Grant’s Jeremy Thorpe, referring to his relations with men before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Britain, “but if you do know those men, George, then you know those nights and you know how those nights can end”. What follows is a snapshot of violent and volatile scenes of Thorpe picking up men, and a similar sense of threat and menace hangs over this beautiful and moving portrayal of oppressed male sexual desire by young director Jamie Armitage.

Ageing drag queen Candy Delaney (Luke Mullins) is nearing ‘her’ thirty-fifth birthday and picks up hot-headed sailor (George Fletcher) on leave for the weekend. Taking him back to her apartment, she offers him anything he wants, all at her expense, just for “some companionship”. Williams’ script is a touching and desperate back and forth filled with honest, risky confessions and financial bartering leading to a dramatically violent, yet familiar, end.

Brimming with emotion, Luke Mullins is an exceptional Candy. Starting off cool and confessional, he convincingly turns desperate and pitiful, and years of heartbreak and pain are readable in every look he gives. It’s a moving performance that makes Candy as the shows central figure so watchable. His upstairs tenants, two ‘queens’ played by Ryan Kopel and Joe Beighton, barge into the second act bringing a much-needed burst of energy, and, under Beighton’s musical direction, provide a stunning piano and vocal set that frames the first act. Armitage’s graceful use of light and colour create a beautiful pastel palette that evokes the heat and period, and choice blackouts create dread and drama at all the right moments.

For those familiar with Williams’ plays, “And Tell Sad Stories…” maintains the emotional weight of his most well-known works, and as a drama in two acts, leaves the audience desperate for more. This is just one of many ‘sad stories’, and the passions and drama on show here leave a lasting impression long after the final bow.

 

Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Henri T Art

 


And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens

King’s Head Theatre until 19th August

 

 

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