McQueen: Theatre Review

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Reviewing plays, films or music that you feel ‘meh’ or ambivalent about is tricky. With McQueen, I can’t say I hated it, that it was terrible or that I loved it. The play was simply okay and I didn’t leave with any strong feelings about it – which can’t be a good sign surely?

This tells the story of tragic designer Alexander McQueen (who killed himself in 2010), played by British actor Stephen Wright, who finds an American girl Dahlia (Dianna Agron) in his workhouse. She has been living in a tree nearby and decides to enter one night so he can make her a dress. The pair spent the night together – he takes her to the tailor where he learned to make clothes, they go to a party and end up at his mum’s home in East London. It is essentially a tale about the tortured genius worrying about his existence and relevance but becomes more about depression and survival.

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The story is inspired by McQueen’s The Girl Who Lived In A Tree 2008-2009 collection, but it hard to say how truthful it is. I’ve learned a lot about McQueen after seeing the Savage Beauty exhibition, so I knew the facts were correct but it’s hard to know if his actions or way of thinking was truthful. I really enjoyed Wright’s portrayal though – he looked quite like McQueen and his performance had such a range – from cynical, joyful to questioning his existence – and he was fascinating to watch. The same can’t be said for Agron. Her acting did not blow me away at all and I did not believe she was this troubled girl contemplating suicide. Her voice was rather monotonous and she seemed to play Dahlia one-note, although there was room for much more.

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The play is very stylish, with loads of dancers in some of McQueen’s designs, but it was all very weird. It is also pretty depressing, especially towards the end when McQueen sees his dead friend, the fashionista Isabella Blow (Tracy-Ann Oberman, in a brilliant turn) and he gets emotional about his life and wonders how long he can live for before calling it a day. It was pretty bleak to be honest, and you begin to wonder if all the events of that night are in his imagination.

It finishes at St. James’ Theatre in London at the end of June and tickets are still available (mine was even upgraded!) but I would urge you to get cheap tickets because it is not going to blow you away.

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