Paul T Davies reviews Mark Farrelly who plays Quentin Crisp in his play Quentin Crisp Naked Hope now streaming on Stream.Theatre.
Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope.
Streaming on Stream.Theatre until 2nd August.
Perhaps made legendary for a wider audience by the 1975 film The Naked Civil Servant and John Hurt’s portrayal, Quentin Crisp became one of the country’s finest “stately homos”, (his term!). He now lives further on in Mark Farrelly’s play, which he also performs, speaking to us firstly from Crisp’s filthy room in1960s London, (“Hold your nerve, after four years the dust doesn’t get any worse!”), then onstage when he moved to New York in the 1990s. Then he becomes “An Englishman in New York”, further immortalised by Sting in his song of the same name.
Farrelly is superb as Crisp, his physicality, (when being beaten up, for example), as elastic and powerful as the flexibility of his vocal performance. Crisp was openly an effeminate gay man, “a minority within a minority”, and his self-homophobia is perhaps a difficult aspect for us to deal with these days. He expected to be beaten, loathed, to never find love. But the joy of survival comes through in the second half, when he concludes that his audience is his reward. Thankfully filmed with a live audience at Wilton’s Music Hall in June 2021, Farrelly engages with them superbly, improvising and responding to audience reaction, especially in the second half when Crisp’s wisdom and honesty shines through.
Seabright Productions brought together this production extremely well, and it’s beautifully directed by Linda Marlowe, who senses every beat of the script with wisdom and empathy. You may feel you’ve had enough of streamed theatre, but this one is well worth your time.