Jubilee at the Lyric Hammersmith
Chris Goode’s stage adaptation of Derek Jarman and James Whaley’s cult classic punk film, Jubilee (1978), can only be described as a wild ride. Semi-plotless, kinky and violent, Jubilee the play is a vintage punk romp amended to include a far more diverse cast, and to rail against today’s troubling political climate, both at home and abroad. Indeed, it seems only natural to apply that old punk rage to 2018, and the violent dystopia that we’re presented with is often all too believable.
Those who haven’t seen the film might struggle to keep up with the pace of the show. It rips along, sometimes slowing for a monologue, sometimes revving up to light speed for a dose of sex and ultra-violence. On some occasions, however, the dialogue slows down enough for viewers to relish it, and the havoc gives way to tenderness, poignancy and exceptional subtlety. Two occasions that particularly stand out are when Amyl Nitrate (performed very well by Travis Alabanza) takes a moment to lament the lack of trans visibility in society today, and the verbal sparring that occurs between Crabs and the murderous Cop No. 2 when they meet in a bar.
Rose Wardlow as Crabs, “sex-positive one”, is herself a highlight of the production. The character she crafts in her mannerisms and attitude conveys depth, chaos and complexity in a role that so easily could have been played the wrong way. Meanwhile, Sophie Stone is highly convincing as the intimidating ringleader, Bod, and Toyah Willcox – a cast member in the original film – delivers her Elizabethan dialogue with wonderful gravitas.
While the staging is intricate and detailed, the seating arrangement isn’t always used to its full advantage. Half the audience sit on the stage itself, which, on the one hand, allows the cast to make full use of the space at all times. However, it also means that many of the most important lines are delivered away from those sat on the stage and, consequently, it can be a struggle to hear these speeches. With a play as fast and as verbose as this, we need to be able to catch every syllable.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
Jubilee is at the Lyric Hammersmith from 15th February until 10th March 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch the trailer for Jubilee here: