Royal date for Queen of Punk Toyah
Friday 17th November 2017 @ 15:41 by Nigel Skinner
Entertainment Features Showbiz Tameside

BACK IN TIME: Toyah as Elizaeth I. Picture courtesy Johan Persson

It’s your last chance to catch Toyah Wilcox in Jubilee at The Royal Exchange which shows until Saturday, November 18.

Jubilee has been adapted for the stage and directed by Chris Goode and company from the original 1978 screenplay by Derek Jarman and James Whaley.

The play features legendary punk warrior Toyah Willcox, one of the film’s iconic original cast members who leads the cast as Queen Elizabeth 1 and marks the 40th Anniversary.

Jubilee is more than a play – it is an apocalyptic nihilistic spectacle of the past and future.  The enigmatic Toyah Willcox as Queen Elizabeth 1 time-travels into a contemporary dystopian Britain, observing from the theatre balcony and addressing the spectators with interludes of poetic verse.

Designer Chloe Lamford creates a backdrop of punk anarchy with Union Jacks and graffiti transporting us back to the punk era. Social comment and political references punctuated throughout the production, including the Grenfell Tower tragedy: “Tower blocks are an efficient mechanism for killing poor people”.

PUNK WARRIOR: Toyah Wilcox

Toyah is not the only Queen of the theatre as Travis Alabanza (Amyl Nitrate) and leader of the punk gang is charismatic, flamboyant and magnificent in the role and the Union Jack flag cavort of “Rule Britannia” is sensational.  Gifted actor Harold Finley (John Dee), Elizabeth’s magician is governing and played a multiple of characters including Borgia Ginz, complete with designer dog handbag! Shakespeare also played a part in this production as Dee conjured up Ariel from The Tempest, performed by versatile actor Lucy Ellinson in a dual role as Viv in the punk gang.

Mad (Temi Wilkey) lived up to her name as she took command of the action, armed and dangerous to create havoc and mayhem. She also appeared as Max in the supermarket trolley vignette which was cleverly comedic.  The gay relationship between Sphinx/A Rhinoceros (Craig Hamilton) and Angel/Schmitzer (Tom Ross-Williams) left nothing to the imagination. The plethora of sexual scenes was excessive, but Hamilton and Ross-Williams gave gutsy performances.

Sophie Stone (Bod) another member of the rebellious punk gang was commanding in the role and Rose Wardlaw (Crabs) was compelling.

LOCAL ACTOR: Yandass Ndlovu

Gareth Kieran Jones was strong in the roles of Happy Days/Lounge Lizard.

Talented local actor and Young Company member Yandass Ndlovu was striking as Kid and a Star in the making.

The Spice Girls also made an appearance as the punk power girl group metamorphosed into the famous fab five. Jubilee is a provocative eclectic cocktail of gratuitous sex and violence, but laced with jubilant intellectualism, verse and music.

Toyah’s reprisal of the iconic song “I want to be free” was sensational, leaving the audience wanting to hear more from the celebrated ‘Queen of Punk’.

Review by DENISE EVANS