The Act – Ovalhouse – Review

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Matthew Baldwin stars in The Act

Matthew Baldwin stars in The Act

One of the defining societal shifts over the last few generations has been the change in attitudes to homosexuality. The Act takes us from the present day, back to the 1950/60’s where this shift started. However this is no dry play pushing its own agenda. At heart we are treated to a love story. That is why I found it a captivating piece of theatre.

It’s a one man show, and Matthew Baldwin ( who co-wrote it with Director Thomas Hescott), gives portrayals to all sorts  from the 50/60’s homosexual underground through to the Lord who passionately petitions the House of Lords to change the law. He also tops and tails the piece as a modern-day gay man, with his own struggles and questions.

He intersperses the play with songs, in which familiar tunes have their lyrics wittily changed and these provide a perfect counterpoint to the other scenes. For me the backbone of the piece are the verbatim sections of the Wolfended report and Lord presenting them to the House of Lords. These frame the play superbly. It is also an astonishing fact that the Church of England and other churches were so positive for the Wolfenden Reports recommendation on the decriminalising of homosexuality. something I was unaware of until last night.

It does on occasions feel a bit disjointed, however towards the end as it moves to a tragic side of the love story it settles down beautifully.

There was gay slang aplenty being used, and I’m sure a few of the jokes went over my head. At no point did I feel this was an inaccessible play for me though. On the contrary, it provided a glimpse into someone else’s world and reaffirmed my belief that we all regardless of our sexual orientation share a common bond in the love we feel for others.

STARS : ★ ★ ★ (and a half)

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