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Jubilee at Lyric Hammersmith

Jubilee at Lyric Hammersmith

“ It’s funny, isn’it?  In 1977 someone shouting NO FUTURE sounded like the most extreme nihilistic punk. Forty years on, it’s a fact. It’s mainstream climate science.” (Amyl, Act II)

When Jubilee, the cult film directed by Derek Jarman, appeared for the first time in 1978, its anarchic, carefree and revolutionary spirit has brought into light the many contradictions of a split country, torn between the fervent Queen Silver Jubilee and the burning anarchism of Punk, that with its DYI and nihilistic philosophy set on fire the streets of the Queen’s beloved country.

Set in London in 1977, Jarman’s Jubilee tells the story of British monarch Elizabeth I who, through a time warp, is whisked to the London “punk” scene of the 1970s. An automatic misfit by virtue of her archaic costuming and speech patterns, Elizabeth is adopted by a group of “cast-off” modern women who’ve formed a little clique of their own. She is introduced to the aural, visual and sensual pleasures of modern London, and after a while she isn’t so keen on returning to her own time.

Adapted for the stage by Chris Goode (STAND, Men in the Cities and The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley) Jubilee will be on stage at the Lyric Hammersmith until 10th  March 2018 with a cast that includes Toyah Willcox who made her screen debut in the original version 40 years ago and comes back to the stage in the role of the time-travelling queen.

Brilliantly  staged,   poignantly   performed   by  a   more   diverse   cast   compared   to   the   film,   and masterfully directed, Goode’s version of Jubilee enchants the audience with its contemporary relevance, its focus on DIY, identity politics and activism.

The characters move through a phantasmagoria of sounds, images, references, politics, social commentary and sexual freedom, often conveying nihilistic feelings of destruction, violence and death, but more often digging into both the audience’s and each other’s feelings of despair and resignation, the frustration of struggling in a society on the verge of collapse and dealing with the apparent impossibility of real human connections.

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Delving into police brutality, inequality, gentrification and conflict, gender, race and sexuality, Jubilee both speaks both to a particular cultural moment and to History, Jubilee tells the story of a country and its people, but most of all it tells the stories of people, their paralyzing fears, their desperate attempts to survive and create something meaningful out of chaos, the power of art and DIY and the ability to generate real bonds in spite of an alienating, competitive and merciless environment. Image credit: Cast of Jubilee at Lyric Hammersmith. Photos by Tristram Kenton.

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