Over the past few weeks, Seabright Productions have released a series of shows filmed at Wilton's Music Hall to stream online for a limited period of time. Past titles A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad, Black Is The Colour of My Voice and FRIEND (The One WIth Gunther) have all been reviewed here over the past few weeks, but they may have saved the best til last with Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope.
Written by and starring Mark Farrelly, Naked Hope tackles the life story of the notorious Quentin Crisp - a unique human being who lived his life unashamedly being himself. The show frames itself in two halves - the first seeing Crisp as a younger man in the late 1960s in his filthy Chelsea flat, and then moving to New York for his final years in the 1990s as he wows an audience. Farrelly effortlessly transitions from one to another with a notable shift in character, while keeping the raw essence of what made Crisp himself.
In Naked Hope, Farrelly provides a masterclass in characterisation - truly becoming the legendary raconteur in a way that seems to go beyond acting. His speech as himself at the end of the piece goes some way to understanding this as Farrelly speaks about the way he found himself connected to Quentin Crisp. Being alone on a stage for over an hour (aside from a brief interaction with an audience member) is no easy task. Farrelly ensures he never misses a beat and remains utterly captivating at all times - a testament to his charisma.
Whether you are familiar with the life of Quentin Crisp or not, you will find joy and humour in the summarising of his life. It isn't all fun and laughter though, the show has some emotional undertones that pop up sporadically throughout - while he may have received abuse from those that did not understand him, he never let that define him. The underlying message of the show is to be yourself, no matter what - a message that is still relevant to this day, as many struggle with those accepting them for who they truly are.
A truly beautiful one-man show, brilliantly directed by Linda Marlowe, Quenton Crisp: Naked Hope is theatre at its best - raw, simple, emotion and full of connection - whether that be with the audience lucky enough to watch this in person or those watching it through a screen. Full of wit and wisdom, Farrelly is a revelation as he takes on such a legendary gentleman. A truly life-affirming play, Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope is an absolute triumph.
Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope streams until August 1st at https://www.stream.theatre/season/161