Anyone expecting Queereteria TV at Above The Stag to be a star vehicle for Andy Bell or some kind of Erasure jukebox musical will leave the Vauxhall theatre disappointed. Those wanting something altogether different will be satisfied.
Queereteria TV, written by Barney Ashton-Bullock, (who also plays Daniel) with music by Christopher Frost, is set in a post apocalypse TV studio where the world’s last surviving celebrities pump out a bizarre series of shows, from cookery to live reports of the sex life of the royals. We see life behind and in front of the cameras, in an impressive set by David Shields, like a camp Mad Max meets the video for Atomic by Blondie, complete with high tech video that mirrors and complements the action. The TV studio is ruled over by Lady Domina Bizarre, played brilliantly by Matthew Baldwin, with the look of David Hoyle and the self-centred delusion of Myra DuBois at her most dramatic. Andy Bell plays Torsten, an immortal singer kept prisoner by Lady Domina, and the majority of the songs are performed by him, most of which seem relate to the past life of the characters. We also meet his lover Daniel and Rupert, who works for, but despises Lady Domica, played by Peter Straker. The cast is fleshed out, almost literally by William Spence and Tom Mann, who play both the TV stations dancers and the young Torsten and young Daniel, Tom is particularly impressive when being interviewed as Torsten.
Queereteria TV is a strange beast, the narrative is sometimes difficult to follow and some of the performances a bit shaky, but it’s totally engaging and enjoyable with an intelligent and complicated script. As a comment on the celebrity obsessed nature of the modern world it doesn’t pull any punches and is held together by an outstanding performance by Matthew Baldwin and the gorgeous voice of Andy Bell, that runs like a silver thread of narration through the whole piece. Visually impressive, frequently hilarious, with flashes of brilliance, at times strange, then touching, it’s like an alternative reality panto with great music and Green Shield stamps. Dave Cross