Singing the Blues in California – Review: The Stripper

Gloria Onitiri and Sebastien Torkia in The Stripper photo: David Freeman

Gloria Onitiri and Sebastien Torkia in
The Stripper – photo: David Freeman

Just when you managed to convince a young lady that suicide is not a good idea, she falls off the high-rise anyway. Detective Al Wheeler asks: Why? He was so close to having saved her life.

The St James Studio presents The Stripper, a whodunnit story set in 1960s California, written by Rocky Horror Show creator Richard O’Brien (lyrics), Richard Hartley (music) and Carter Brown (book) in 1985.

Director Benji Sperring knows his Richard O’Brien. Last year he staged to great acclaim Shock Treatment, the 1981 film sequel to the Rocky Horror Show. Now, Sperring has revised The Stripper and, in his tight direction, remains true to the film noir style of the story without compromising its quirkiness.

The eponymous stripper, Dolores, in the Extravaganza Club, is meant to have the answer to Wheeler’s question, but the clues also lead him to a set of bizarre characters such as the owners of a lonely hearts club, Sarah and Jacob Arkwright; their client Harvey Stern, a flamboyant florist; and back to the Extravaganza Club and its dubious owner Miles Rovak.

Sebastian Torkia plays the cool detective with his knowing and witty asides perfectly. Gloria Onitiri as Dolores is someone to watch out for: her stunning voice when she sings the blues with The Lonely Are Legend just grabs you. Hannah Grover, Marc Pickering and Michael Steedon enjoy the lion’s share of the fun delivering a crazy array of characters with great skill and versatility.

The score draws pleasantly on jazz, swing and rock’n’roll. Yet, there are some tunes one has heard elsewhere before.

It’s a highly entertaining production with first class performances throughout on a compact stage by Tim Shortall. There is no doubt that the glitter at the Extravaganza Club may be tinsel, but the production sparkles like a 24-carat diamond.

The Stripper runs at the St James Studio until 13 August 2016.

By Sabine Schereck

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Listen again: 28 June 2016

UH 2434 x 3600 pxRosie speaks to playwright Leigh Douglas about her contemporary coming-of-age fairytale Waking Beauty, which takes a fresh look through a feminist, queer lens at some traditional stories. It’s playing at Ovalhouse from 13 to 15 July.

Film maker Aaron Brookner discusses his film Uncle Howard ahead of a screening at the East End Film Festival, which ran from 23 June to 3 July.

Poet Helen Oakleigh performs live and talks about her piece Why We Need Pride, which she is also turning into a short film.

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but here’s what we played on the live show:

1) Ezra Furman: Body Was Made from the album Perpetual Motion People
2) O’Hooley & Tidow: Shadows from the album Shadows
3) Cyndi Lauper: Misty Blue from the album Detour
4) Annie Keating: Trick Star from the album Trick Star
5) Sarah Walk: Keep on Dreaming from the album

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Listen again: 21 June 2016

Dean Atta photo by Lily Bertrand-Webb

Dean Atta
photo by Lily Bertrand-Webb

Broadcast of the highlights of Queer’Say recorded at Tate Modern on 22 May. Rosie introduced live spoken word sets from Richard Scott, Rachel Mars and Dean Atta before interviewing them onstage. This event was supported by Southwark LGBT network and Arts Council England and presented in partnership with Apples and Snakes. The next live events take place at Richmix on 9 September and at Hackney Attic on 30 September.

Listen to the show on the main post: Queer’Say May 2016

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Listen again: 14 June 2016

Screen shot 2016-07-09 at 23.12.57Rosie and writer John Fitzpatrick discuss his play This Much (or Act of Violence Towards the Institution of Marriage) which was a hit at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and ran at Soho Theatre until 2 July.

LGBTQ Arts editor Amie Taylor joins them in conversation about this piece which examines how we define ourselves through relationships.

Sarah Humphreys, chair of East London Out Project, tells us about their forthcoming Pride events and reviews clips of Jack Rooke and Sophia Walker recorded at a special mini-Queer’Say event they supported at Idea Store Whitechapel.

Poet and theatre-maker Nick Field pops into the studio ahead of his performance alongside Keith Jarrett and Ali Brumfitt at Queer’Say at Hackney Attic – now rescheduled for 30 September.

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but here’s what we played on the live show:

1) Rufus Wainwright: Across the Universe from the album Poses
2) Nick Field: Work Bitch
3) Amelia White: Home Sweet Hotel from the album Home Sweet Hotel

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Listen again: 7 June 2016

heelsofgloryposter-steve-may-web1DJ and writer Stewart Who? guest hosts while Rosie is away.

Drag performer Topsie Redfern joins him on the phone to discuss Heels of Glory – The Drag Action Musical, which is headlining this year’s London Pride Festival, with a three-week run at Chelsea Theatre from 9-26 June.

Le Strange and Callum Mac of comedy troupe The Sex Shells pop into the studio. They chat about the challenges and joys of queer live comedy and their forthcoming shows at The Glory and Latitude Festival.

James Waygood reviews Odd Shaped Balls, a play about the issues around ‘coming out’ while representing the country in a national sport – in this case rugby. The critically acclaimed production was at the Old Red Lion Theatre until 25 June.

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but here’s what we played on the live show:

1) MNEK: Wrote a Song About You from the album Small Talk
2) Kaytranada (feat. Shay Lia): Leave Me Alone from the album 99.9%
3) Drone Bomb Me: ANOHNI from the album Hopelessness
4) Amanda Lear: Fashion Pack from the album Never Trust a Pretty Face

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Queer’Say May 2016

Dean Atta photo by Lily Bertrand-Webb

Dean Atta
photo by Lily Bertrand-Webb

Out in South London and Apples and Snakes present Queer’Say, a showcase of queer spoken word hosted by Rosie Wilby. After their performance, Rosie speaks to each artist about their work, life and writing and invites the audience to ask questions. This Queer’Say took place on 22 May 2016 at Tate Modern. Gracing the gallery with fantastic performances were Dean Atta, Richard Scott and Rachel Mars.

Dean Atta is a writer and performance poet. He has been commissioned to write poems for the Damilola Taylor Trust, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery and most recently new poems for the BBC World Service. Atta won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2012. His debut poetry collection I Am Nobody’s Nigger was published in 2013 on The Westbourne Press.

Richard Scott poet, broadcaster and musician. His new pamphlet Wound was published this year by Rialto, and has been described by Mark Doty as containing “Brave and aching poems… Scott’s resonant language veers between the plain and the rapturous, testifying to the persistence, no matter what, of pleasure.” Richard also writes on opera and librettos for publications including The Guardian and presents The Opera Hour on Resonance 104.4FM. Richard chatted to Rosie ahead of the gig on 26 April 2016.

Rachel Mars is a performance maker with a background in theatre, live art and comedy. From a playful interrogation of popular culture, to more poetic performance, her work interweaves personal reflection with universal questions of politics, identity and place. Rachel cites comic influences including Ken Dodd and Morecambe and Wise. Recent commissions have included Royal Court Tottenham, Fuel Theatre, Home Live Art and Ovalhouse. She is a regular contributor to Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2.

The next Queer’Say events are at Richmix on 9 September and at Hackney Attic on 30 September.

 

Our thanks go to Southwark LGBT network and Arts Council England.

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Listen again: 31 May 2016

holding_the_man_xlgRosie and filmmaker Ed Webb-Ingall discuss his We Have Rather Been Invaded project, investigating the impact and legacy of Section 28. The title refers to a memorable key moment of protest – when, on May 23 1988, four lesbians gatecrashed Sue Lawley’s broadcast of the BBC Six O’Clock news.

Liverpool-based performer, arts consultant and broadcaster Roger Hill talks about his work curating the Cockpit theatre’s June live art festival Beyond Bloodlines.

DJ and writer Stewart Who reviews the Australian film Holding the Man, based on Timothy Conigrave’s personal memoir about his romantic relationship with John Caleo in the 1970s and ’80s.

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but here’s what we played on the live show:

1) Cyndi Lauper: I Fall to Pieces from the album Detour
2) Beep: Mouth to Mouth
3) Sarah Walk: Keep on Dreaming
4) Annie Keating: Trick Star from the album Trick Star

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