Riot Act at the Arcola Theatre: Review by Stephen Vowles

Alexis Gregory is a writer, actor, activist and raconteur who needs to be championed because he is a fabulous verbatim storyteller. In Riot Act, Alexis takes the anecdotes and stories of three people: Michael who witnessed the horror of the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969, Lavinia, a fabulous radical drag queen in 1970’s London and Paul an activist during the 1980s and 90s. Alexis’s attention to detail is in earnest, evoking an atmosphere on stage that translates vividly the passion felt by the three subjects. This special performance is to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and resonates even deeper and stronger because of it.

Alexis’s commitment to his craft is spellbinding, maintaining a freshness to the material and at times a very sexy, provocative mood – and by inserting very funny quips and moments made for captivating theatre with his energy level showing no signs of limitation. His delivery is crisp, articulate and through an almost ritualistic direction by Rikki Beadle-Blair, this is a theatrical partnership made in heaven. He recalls pivotal points in gay history, the police brutality both in New York and in London, and the terror felt by people as AIDS took hold, again on both sides of the Atlantic. This is a wonderful history lesson told with a zest and zeal and should be relished. Emotionally charged and honest theatre.


Photos by Dawson James 

Riot Act was reviewed on Sunday 16 June. Further performance on the 23 and 30 June at the Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, Dalston, London, E8 3DL. Box office: 020 7503 1646

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