The 80s meets modern-day England in Aira Entertainment and Lambert Jackson Productions’s latest performance, Cruise, a brilliantly written piece celebrating queer culture, heart-pounding music and the colourful history of Soho’s underbelly. Like most theatre surviving in lockdown, the play has been adapted for a filmed format, trying to capture the live experience for the screen; however, unlike many such productions, this one triumphantly succeeds in bringing the two mediums together. With its stellar script, intuitive editing and immaculate sound design, the one-man show not only replicates the feeling of an intimate live performance but stands as a prime example of how powerful film and theatre can be when combined to tell a story.
Working at a call centre is well known for being a demanding experience, but it can also lead to hearing personal histories that stick with employees for life. This proves to be the case for young Jack, a 22 year-old who comes in hungover to his shift at an LGBTQ hotline when party veteran Michael calls in. Jack’s personal problems are soon put into perspective as Michael tells him what being gay in London during the 80s was truly like, what a legendary night out really was and how strong one once had to be to survive the loneliness and tragedy of watching one’s friends pass away.
Written and performed by Jack Holden, the production tells a story that many have heard before, touching on AIDS and the harsh reality that was the queer experience back in the day. However, with Holden’s visceral and emotive writing style and impressive multi-roling, Cruise feels unique and brings new life to the familiar material.
The strong characterisation and narrative are paired with the production team’s obvious expertise and knowledge of film. The camera feels alive, following Holden as he grinds and dances across the floor of a gritty abandoned room. Colourful lighting changes and pointed close-ups transport the audience to the ecstasy-laced club nights of the 80s, and the whirlwind and intoxicated climax that is Michael’s heartbreaking tale of loss.
Here is a production that utilises the striking writing and dialogue of theatre with the artistic and fast-moving action of film, truly giving audiences the best of both worlds. Cruise is a captivating story and a must-watch.
Photos: Jack Hextall
Cruise is available to stream via Stream.Theatre from 15th April until 25th April 2021, and will be live at the Duchess Theatre from 18th May until 13th June 2021. For further information or to book visit the production’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: