The Act at the Ovalhouse
Part of the Ovalhouse’s 50th anniversary season, The Act is in itself sort of rooted within the history of counter culture. A retrospective of gay culture, The Act chronicles the arguments made for and against the Church of England’s decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1960s Britain.
The play is essentially a one-man show, performed brilliantly by actor Matthew Baldwin. For 70 minutes he switches between characters (two gay people and various constituents of the House of Lords) whilst also performing musical numbers – mostly about Rough Trade and burgeoning sexuality. It’s almost as if you are watching someone slip seamlessly in and out of multiple personalities as he tells tales of himself and other outcasts of society.
Despite the actor’s talents, the main issue with The Act is the threadbare plot, or rather lack of it. There doesn’t appear to be much clear direction, making it hard to be captivated by the story. Although the stage is so intimate that you’re practically inseparable from the play, The Act is another unfortunate case of style over substance, even with the creative use of the miniscule setting. Instead of being engrossed by the play you are left to plod through it, which is a shame considering the obvious brilliance of Matthew Baldwin’s performance.
The production’s ultimate flaw is that it isn’t adding anything new to the theatrical cannon. You may have the sneaking suspicion that you’ve come across this type of play before. Not only clichéd, The Act is meandering and anti-climactic.
The Act is at the Ovalhouse until 2nd February 2013. The COUNTERCULTURE 50 season runs until 9th March 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.