Listen again: 4th November 2014

First Episode at the Jermyn Street Theatre

‘First Episode’ at the Jermyn Street Theatre

Baylen Leonard sits in for Rosie. Journalist Alex Goldberg tells us over the phone from Berlin about three exhibitions that are currently at the gay museum Schwules Museum* in Berlin:  ’30 Years of Siegessäule’, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of Berlin’s LGBT magazine, ‘My Comrade – The Diva’, about theatre during World War I, and ‘The Magical World of the Moomins’.

Alex says, as a tourist in Berlin, he regularly picks up the Siegessäule for their listings section. The magazine is also accessible to English speakers as their website offers articles in English. Alex learned that the name means victory column and derives from the monument of the same name, which is in the Tiergarten park, a well-known cruising area. The exhibition shows old editions that invite to read, and offers tours on Saturdays at 5pm. ’30 Years of Siegessäule’ runs until 23rd November.

‘My Comrade – The Diva’ focuses on female impersonators in war theatre at the front and in prison camps as female roles had to be portrayed by men. The men who were to play female characters were often picked for their slender features. Although not all men enjoyed doing it, some did very much and rose to a certain stardom with their female persona. Letters also reveal the tender feelings some men had for these stars. The exhibition also highlights the importance of theatre as a means of escaping of the horrors of the war. Besides showing photographs, films, make up and costumes of the past it also shows video clips of war theatre in the present day. A remarkable feature of the exhibition is that it not only presents war theatre in Germany, but also in England, France and Russia. ‘My Comrade – The Diva’ finishes on 30th November.

‘The Magical World of the Moomins’ is aimed at children and offers wooden Moomin characters to play with, books to read and Moomin characters to be coloured in. The grown-ups learn, for example, that the creator of the Moomins, Tove Jansson has been relatively open about her relationship and in the summer she lived with her partner Tuulikki Pietilä on the island of Klovharu. It also gives an insight into what makes the characters of the Moomin world so special: They show a lot of tolerance towards those who are different. The exhibition ends on 10th November.

Writer Clayton Littlewood reviews the first revival of Terence Rattigan’s play ‘First Episode’. Set in 1933, it revolves around an Oxford undergraduate who falls in love with a mature actress. Clayton enjoyed the performance but considers it to be a ‘historical’ piece as nowadays it seems hard to see why it would have caused such outcry, for example for showing students gambling and men and women talking about casual sex. Clayton shares some background information: Terence Rattigan wrote the play in 1933, when he was 22 years old and an undergraduate himself. He wrote it with fellow student Philip Heimann, an unrequited love. Clayton also points out that although the writing in 1933 obviously had to be very subtle regarding homosexual hints, director Tom Littler could have updated the performance for a contemporary audience to reveal these undertones. ‘First Episode’ runs at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 22nd November.

Actors Denholm Spurr and Pearce Sampson talk about Nick Myles’ new play ‘Tom and Jerry – A Love Story’, in which they perform. It shows a relationship told in four ‘chaotic’ chapters. Denholm explains that the title ‘Tom and Jerry’ links in so far to the famous cat and mouse cartoon as this relationship is very much based on ‘playfighting’, which – in his experience – is very characteristical of gay relationships. Pearce admits that he was attracted by the writing style. It is not an easy play to perform because it is split into two parts: The lines that the characters say to each other and their thoughts that they reveal to the audience. ‘Tom and Jerry – A Love Story’ is at the Drayton Arms in Kensington on 16th and 17th November.

For rights reasons the music is not on the podcast, but that’s what you could hear on the show:

1) Alexander Geist: ‘All Power’

2) Lee Roy Reeams and Wanda Richert: ‘Young and Healthy’ from the 1980 Broadway cast recording of “42nd Street”

3) Scissor Sisters: ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing’ from the album “Ta-Dah”

4) Secret Affair: ‘Soho Dreams’ from the album “Soho Dreams”

5) Queen: ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ from the album “The Game”



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