The expression ‘to read the Riot Act’ is to reprimand severely with the added sense of a stern warning, and by using these words as the title of his fabulous monologue, Alexis Gregory’s very clever pun has the desired trick. He acts out four decades of stories: the first being the 17 year old, gravel-voiced American called Michael who witnesses the brutality and police corruption of the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. Story two is drag queen Lavinia who loved the London of the 1970s and early 1980s; and lastly Paul, a 51 year old, who is now a keen Action = Life political activist and at the heart of reminding all the politicians that the AIDS crisis is still very much a ‘hot potato’ in the 1990s. Cohesive direction by Rikki Beadle-Blair reinforced the poignancy, passion and power of Gregory’s tour de force performance leading to the standing ovation he so rightly deserved.
What is so immediately impressive about Gregory’s show is that he is an actor on a mission whose verbal and body language is impressive and beautiful. His comment on society is also a personal one that forms part of the last segment of the show; he is out to reprimand and he is being brutally honest. Gregory has a very strong stage presence which radiates out. This is a polished piece of verbatim theatre and I have to applaud the exceptional performance by Alexis Gregory. Riot Act deserves to be seen by a much larger audience. Riveting stuff!
Riot Act, a Gala, was performed on Monday 26th November at the Duchess Theatre, 3-5 Catherine Street London WC2B 5LA in aid of the 56 Dean Street Wellbeing Programme.