STAGE REVIEW: Queer and Now – Riot Act @ Live Theatre, Newcastle (20.02.20) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Alone and picked out by a sole spotlight on a stark stage, playwright and performer Alexis Gregory – via mild costume changes coupled with substantial personality transformations – fully embodied three compelling characters, all older gay men whose lives and testimonies together conjured a wild, stirring romp through six decades of queer history.

Regenerating three times into a Stonewall riots survivor (one of the very few remaining), a seventies radical drag artist, and a prominent nineties AIDS activist, we feel the power of individual testimony and the weight of the devastation wrought by AIDS.

Alongside the heartbreak of three people who feel lucky to be alive beyond thirty, a privilege many of their friends never had, we feel their anger at the younger gay scene’s ignorance of the people who blazed a trail for them decades before. Through this critical social history, Gregory seeks to reconnect these pre-and-post-AIDS generations, crossing the divide created by the death of thousands of gay men decades earlier.

A verbatim work based on a series of no-holds-barred interviews, the cut-and-pasted, recontextualised text grips and soars. Managing to balance notions of death and oppression with abundant humour, Riot Act embraces the importance of oral history, treasures the small details lost to time, and forces awareness of the giants whose shoulders we stand on.

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