@ The Space
2:00pm, Fri 15 Mar 2002
Short Review: Remarkable
In front of an audience of mostly conservative older women (who thought it snickeringly funny for a man to apply makeup, and tutted loudly at the mention of oral sex), Bette Bourne plays a 91-year-old Quentin Crisp in one of the most enjoyable performances of the Fringe.
Crisp is portrayed as a gloriously nonchalant eccentric; with purple tinted hair, he changes from his scruffy dressing gown into his “going out clothes” – a black velvet suit – over the course of the first act. While he waits for the arrival of his luncheon dates, he chats informally with the audience about television (“survival of the glibbest”), Lady Di, marriage and politics. The act ends as he walks out the door to meet his dining companions.
Act Two has a wonderful opening – Crisp walks in, hair askew, muttering “It wasn’t them” – he’s been stood up. This is later confirmed via telephone by his agent, with Crisp pulling faces at the other end of the line. The monologue continues – a lot of comparisons between Britain and the United States (“the English don’t like effeminate women”), a review of homosexuality in the ’20s (including the very funny “heaven for homosexuals” quips), and an existential rant on style and self. All that, and Helmet’s “In The Meantime” played in the background, too.
Bourne is clearly a wonderful actor – he produces a wonderfully measured performance, with wonderful presence onstage and remarkable comedic timing. The manner in which he handled (in character) the woman in the front who left her mobile phone on (and then proceeded to tinker with the phone after it had rung) showed a maturity few others have displayed this Fringe. Tim Fountain’s script is incredible – wonderfully witty, occasionally biting, always entertaining. This is one production not to be missed.