Arran Bell’s The Unimportance of Being Gay at The Union Theatre: Review by Stephen Vowles 

With an immediate and intimate vibe created by the small black round cabaret-style tables and chairs, Bell burst onto the stage at The Union Theatre with an exuberant energy that told his audience they were in for a good time, and Bell did not fail. His opening dialogue was of course slightly bitchy, biting and dared anyone to heckle him and this was greeted by a burst of cat calls and cheers, and I quote Bell:

“I am going to take you on a journey to rock bottom all in the name of light entertainment.”

Supported by singer dancers Kara-Lianne Jones and Elli Hosier with Flynn Sturgeon on piano, accordion and penny whistle, Bell opened with a re-working of Judy Garland’s “Trolley Song” from Meet Me in St Louis, changing the lyrics to pure filth, very blue and gloriously gorgeous. 

You can tell by their reaction Bell’s audience respected his talent which heightened his rapport with them. He has a natural gift for comedy with one of the highlights of the first half of the show being a re-imagining of the Gracie Field’s song “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World” which became “The Biggest Purple Dildo in the World”. 

Bell is a good storyteller as he reminisced about his student days in Guilford, going to New York, being stuck on a cruise ship in Miami probably due to Covid, summers in Manchester and all the men he met which inspired him to write some rather thought-provoking original songs. Bell’s songs are a mixture of up tempo and ballads showcasing his skill as a song writer, both performed with an equal elegance which was rather charming to watch. 

After a well-timed interval, it was the turn of Gilbert and Sullivan to get the Bell treatment where he took the song “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from The Pirates of Penzance and this became “A Very Modern Homosexual”. All clever stuff including a speeded up delivery of the famous chorus with his amended lyrics. Bell has no problem with keeping the energy levels up as he regaled us about sexual fantasies; some fulfilled, some not. Entering the world of cyber sex and Grindr, breaking a few hearts and getting his broken along the way. 

Bell has a natural flair. A born showman and his schooling in the performing arts was beautifully displayed in his homage to Michelle Pfeiffer and the famous piano scene from The Fabulous Baker Boys where straddling the piano much to Flynn’s surprise, and then adding some light gymnastics into the mix which got the audience applauding and showing well-deserved praise.

Bell is a polished, passionate performer, well-rehearsed and extremely professional and is surely destined for bigger things. Go see this young and vibrant talent. 


Photos: Megan Alderson

Arran Bell performs his second show on Saturday 28th May at The Union Theatre, Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London SE1 OLR. Box office: 020 7261 9876 Click on the banner on the Boyz site to also book tickets. 

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