There's no impersonating class
The Strip Royal Court, London THEATRE With Phyllis Nagy, we are in the presence of a distinctive and growing talent
Friday 03 March 1995
The Strip has a sly, drolly impious way with notions of authenticity. At the opposite end from Ava, there's Martin (Patrick O'Kane) a muscle- bound gay fitness freak who, in his weird extremities of macho preening, is just a parodic inversion of the old sissy stereotype, who fails to see the irony of a calling a female friend a "poof" for not being able to lift weights. In one of the play's funniest sequences he meets up with a white supremacist meathead from Virginia (excellent Nicholas Farrell) who has wandered unwittingly into an Earls Court gay leather pub. Thinking he's in the sort of American bar "where a fella can hook up with his buddies, take a break from the missus and the kids", he enables Nagy to suggest some mischievous comparisons and contrasts between these two seemingly disparate kinds of men-only society.
All of which makes The Strip sound a good deal easier to follow than it is. In fact, from the play's opening image, you sense that your comprehension will remain blundering in the wake of Steven Pimlott's vibrantly acted production. As the far-flung and madly assorted personnel disport themselves in surreal proximity to each other on Tobias Hoheisel's bright, split- level set, it puts you in panicky mind of that "On and on and on and on with Ariston" advert. A sphinx dominates the right-hand of the stage: not the genuine article but the mock-up at the Hotel Luxor, Las Vegas. The play has more overlapping strands than an Altman movie, but it's at this gambling mecca that, at the time of solar eclipse, the various groups eventually converge.
The interconnected destinies of (among others) a Southern right-winger on the run in London for blowing up 27 black Baptist ministers, Loretta, his archly forward wife (a brilliant Cheryl Campbell), an obsessive lesbian journalist and a gay pawnbroker, are presided over by the svelte, sphinx- like Otto Mink (Nicholas le Prevost). Reminding you of the Duke in Measure for Measure, he tries to control the coincidence-ridden fates of these people in the interests of his forlorn, insufficiently dramatised love for white trash Loretta. But, again like the Duke, his plot keeps getting derailed. Indeed, at the close, with the fruit-machines debouching a symbolically endless jackpot in Las Vegas, the play seems to turn into a qualified celebration of the randomness Mink has tried to minimise.
The Strip could show us more of this character, who comes across as only theoretically central in the work as it stands, and Pimlott's production of a restless piece could offer more clues as to where we are at any given point. But one place we certainly are is in the presence of a distinctive and growing talent.
n To 1 April (0171-730 1745)
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 President Obama leaves touching comment on Humans of New York photo from Iran
- 3 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 4 The Chinese city where men have 'three girlfriends because there are so many women'
- 5 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Star Wars: New action dolls launched on Force Friday ahead of The Force Awakens release
Ricki And The Flash, film review: Meryl Streep's rock'n'roll creation steals the show
Joan Aiken: Today's Google Doodle celebrates life of British fantasy novelist
Photographer captures the beauty and intensity of his girlfriend giving birth at home
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Refugees welcome: More than 250,000 sign Independent petition calling for Britain to 'take its fair share'