Words by Daniel Marshall, Attitude's Freelance Editorial Assistant & Editor of The Gay Stage
If I had been told that last Thursday night I’d be sat in a
trendy Brixton bar next to Steve Strange, watching somebody play Steve Strange
on stage – there’s a tongue twister for ya! – I’d have told them they were
crazy. I’d be right, of course, because Taboo – The Boy George Musical is
crazy. It’s a musical-come-cabaret-come-biodrama-come-concert. And it’s
Having enjoyed a great deal of success last year, Taboo has
now been given an extended run at Brixton Club House and features a host of new
cast members, many of whom are making their professional debuts. Paul Treacy (Boy George) is one such
performer who deserves a huge amount of credit. Paul’s voice is like white
chocolate pouring into your soul. From the moment he opens his mouth, you can
feel the audience quite literally melting into their seats and it’s testament
to him that, on so many occasions, it’s genuinely easy to believe that you
really are watching a young Boy George dazzle audiences with his bizarre
beauty. Simply magical.
Of course, Boy George didn’t enjoy the early stages of his
career alone – he was just one member of a somewhat messed up (but pretty
successful, nonetheless) motley crew. Cast members Paul Baker (Philip
Sallon), Jordan Luke-Gage
(Marilyn) and The Voice’s Sam Buttery (Leigh Bowery) all did a fantastic job of
giving us a taste of the 1980s high-life, full of big characters making big
statements, often to the point of bringing the audience to hysterics.
In particular, Sam’s purposefully grotesque depiction of Leigh
Bowery became truly brilliant when he was able to shed all pretence and bring a
rowdy audience to complete silence. Sam’s monologue, as his character
contemplates his imminent death, is poignant and moving – an unwavering
confirmation of Mr Buttery’s acting abilities, which compliment his
Tom-Jones-approved, fabulous vocal talents.
On the whole, the narrative of this indulgent piece of
theatre is very enjoyable to watch. Aided by Boy George classics, the first
half is a thrill for anyone with a shred of fun in their body and the use of
the venue is, at times, massively impressive. My only criticism would be that
the second act did suffer a little from a dip in energy, though Devon-Elise
Johnson (Kim), Julia Worsley (Josey) and Paul Baker did astound the audience
and re-energise the performance with an unbelievably awesome number that got
everyone dancing – even the stern-faced critics sat behind me.
Taboo is a must-see for anyone who enjoys watching larger
than life characters deliver larger than life performances. Brixton Club House
is a funky venue, though my only suggestion would be to lower the price of wine
(£6 a glass is a little OTT) and to invest in some comfier chairs (plastic isn’t
great for a show that lasts almost 3 hours). On the whole, an outstanding musical.