RIOT ACT

2 Aug

RIOT ACT *****
BY Alexis Gregory
At the Kings Head

A NEED TO BE HEARD. Here is a verbatim theatre piece on gay liberation and queer history with a stunning and deeply emotional performance by the author.
Alexis interviewed three gay men, and he took note of their stories word for word and their experiences. Michael Anthony Nozzi – a man who at the age of seventeen had witnessed the Stonewall riots in New York; Lavinia Co-op an East End Drag Queen and a fifty year old gay man Paul Burston who is a leading activist for the establishment of Pride and a continuing battle with AIDS and HIV.
Alexis has taken from the three guys not only their words in their exactitude but also their voices their gestures and mannerisms and brought the men to life. He inhabits these men, telling their stories exactly as they were told to him.
The most symbolic representation of LGBT is Pride which marks the anniversary of The Stonewall Riot in 1969 . Michael who speaks in a husky American voice, knew that he only felt comfortable in New York in Stonewall, the single gay bar in town in 1969. Here there were mainly frightened middle aged and older men wo were constantly afraid of the constant police raids who arrived with heavy truncheons. He remembers there was a Judy Garland film on. Suddenly during the police raid, the Gays started fighting back. Gay Hell’s Angels swept in and war broke out. The police had banned ambulances and taxis to take the wounded to hospital so it was young men like Michael who ran to get water to bathe the wounds.
Donning a pair of killer heels, Alexis next becomes the persona of Lavinia – an East End drag queen – this section is both comic and poignant. She loves dressing up on stage but is afraid to wear make up or ‘transvestite’ clothing in the streets of Notting Hill because of possible prison sentences and hostility from the community.
Paul Burston, the activist sums up the story. He is so happy to have a wedding photograph of himself and his husband but he warns that the current freedom could easily turn back the other way, one has to be vigilant not to lose what has been gained. It is important that the fight carries on.

This is a deeply profound production, deftly directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair.

Aline Waites

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