A poetic, rhythmic and vibrant play with music, Cruise explores the individuals in the gay community of 1980s London Soho who lived and were sadly lost during the AIDS crisis.
The story follows a telephone call between volunteer of LGBTQ+ helpline 'Switchboard' (Jack) and a gay man called Michael, wishing to seek solace and reminisce about his memories of his time in London's Soho during the 1980s. We learn that Michael was a vibrant and larger than life character, moving to London in the 80s to discover himself. On his road to self discovery, he meets and falls in love with a burly, uncharasmatic man, hilariously called 'Slutty Dave' in a karaoke bar. Soon after meeting and falling in love, both Michael and Slutty Dave are diagnosed with HIV and are devastatingly told that they have only four years to live. In a desperate attempt to make the most of their time together, Michael and Dave sell their property and truly live in the moment.
This story feels completely poignant due to the fact that it is based on the true events of writer and performer Jack Holden's time volunteering with a LGBTQ+ charity. This completely allows the audience to resonate with the heartbreak of these characters and emphasise with their feelings. Holden has written the story so effectively that it provides a good balance of fun and light hearted moments with some real tender and devastating moments.
Holden demonstrates a masterclass in acting, as the only individual playing all of the characters in the show, he brilliantly adapts into each character with ease, changing the accent and the physical mannerisms to make it completely believable. Holden makes good use of the set and staging, consistently moving to different areas and levels to captivate the audience and gain their attention. Not once leaving the stage in the one hour forty minute running time, he demonstrates passion, devastation and bares his soul on the stage.
Whilst Jack plays all the characters that we meet, composer and sound designer John Patrick Elliott has a vital role in this piece of theatre. Performing on the stage throughout as a live DJ, John effectively sets the tone of the production by creating vibrant, authentic 80s beats. He adapts his compositions accordingly to unite the poetic spoken words from Holden and creates the required atmosphere - softer melodies to meet the more tender and heartfelt moments, in contrast to the pulsating beats of an 1980s gay club.
Set and costume design from Nik Corrall and lighting design from Prema Mehta effectively transport us back to the 80s, with vibrant neon lighting and a dingy and dark industrial cube in the centre of the stage, which rotates to transport the story to different settings. Aided by the projections by Stufish Entertainment Architects, it never once feels too 'showbiz' and effectively serves its purpose of setting the tone of vibrant Soho in the 1980s. Clever direction comes from Bronagh Lagan which ensures that tension and atmosphere is maintained throughout, gripping audiences and enticing them on the journey.
Cruise is a heartfelt, energetic and raw tribute which allows audiences to understand and empthaise with those who felt trapped by a diagnosis which led to negative stigma and led to devastation and heartbreak. It runs at Home Theatre until Saturday 12th August. For more tickets and information, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | Photography by Pamela Raith