Claudio Macor has done it again and scored a certain and sure-fire hit with his monumental play inspired by a silent black and white pro-gay film made in Germany around 1919. Different From The Others tells how the film’s inter-titles displayed between the vignettes promoted a positive message about homosexuality which was incredible for the time, and which starred mainstream German and well respected actors Anita Berber and Conrad Veldt.
The play’s cast led by an inspiring Jeremy Booth as Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, a well respected sexologist to whom the play is dedicated, and with outstanding support from Christopher Sherwood as Richard Oswald, Beth Eyre, phenomenal as Berber, a magnificent Simon Stallard playing joint roles as Kurt Giese and Klaus, a very watchable Jordan Alexander who bears an uncanny resemblance to the real Veidt and a fabulously decadent Benjamin Garrison as the drug ravished Reinhold Shunzel – who then switches character completely to inhabit the role of the fanatical Albert Vogel.
Different From The Others tells the story of the making of the movie and the obstacles that were overcome to get the film distributed across Europe. Then we see the rise of Nazi Germany, the destroying of all material considered abhorrent to the Nazi ideology in the early 1930s, and then finding a reel of what was presumed to be the only surviving print of the movie in the Ukraine in the 1990s followed by the attempt to move it to Los Angeles in 2012 to get the print and negative restored and made available to view again.
The film was progressive, and so is Macor’s play with his exceptional cast bringing shape and shade to their respective roles as if they were on the film set in 1919. Jenny Eastop’s very controlled direction and Hazel Owen’s production, including the use of video playback and an actual scene from the movie to end the play, made this intelligent theatre.
Macor’s play explores issues of blackmail and superb bitchiness, the attraction between an older man to a younger man and vice versa, obsession, cocaine addiction, temptation, the need for honesty – and with a real flair and panache captures the essence of the time with ease. A well crafted look at a bygone era and a story from gay history that demands to be told. Glorious in the extreme with a cast of actors that completely dazzle and shine.