The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

May the power of the brolly live on!

British. Londoner. Campaigner. Gandhian. Tatchellite. Works at the Terrence Higgins Trust. EQView Arts Editor and Writer. Theatre (esp @NationalTheatre), film and TV geek. Sherlockian. All views my own.



The blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
- Dinah Craik, in A Life for a Life (1859)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – Episode 2 – Review
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In EQView this week I reviewed Episode 2 of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and found it drew me further into its tangled web of magic and mystery.

My EQView review of Episode 2 of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


BBC One’s lavish new Sunday night period drama, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, continued this week and drew me further into its tangled web of magic and mystery!

Episode 2 opens with Mr Norrell at the height of his powers, fully involved in England’s War effort. The French are completely fooled by his latest pièce de résistance – a seemingly endless fleet of ships made from rain. Back in England, Mr Norrell is showered with praise and enjoys basking in his new found fame.

But evil forces are at play, and the bargain Mr Norrell made with the Gentleman at the end of the opening episode, to restore Lady Pole to life, returns to haunt him. Lady Pole is alive but she is not at peace, and her illness gets progressively worse throughout the episode. When she tries to explain what has happened to her, she ends up speaking gibberish, and neither doctors nor magicians can help her. Sir Walter summons Mr Norrell, but all he can say is there is nothing he can do as Lady Pole has gone mad.

The Gentleman claimed half of Lady’s Pole life for helping Mr Norrell bring her back from the dead. Every night, as Lady Pole sleeps, she is doomed to dance the night away with the Gentleman at his ghostly Last Hope Ball. Lady Pole sees this as a fate worse than death, saying she was “better dead than as I am”.

The most important event in this episode is that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell finally meet. Strange’s instinctive magical powers make him Mr Norrell’s equal, because although Strange has never formally studied magic, he is able to practice effective magic. Mr Norrell, having witnessed the magic Strange can perform, agrees to take him on as an apprentice and promptly develops a 10 year study plan for him! To Strange’s profound disappointment, The Raven King and Fairy Magic are not on the curriculum.

Although the Magicians start out as friends, it is inevitable they will become rivals. Sir Walter consults Strange when Mr Norrell is away, and when Mr Norrell is too indisposed to help with a ship that has run aground, Strange springs into action, conjuring up sand horses in one of the most breathtaking special effects sequences I have seen on British TV in a long time. Strange’s magic and his can do approach impresses everyone.

The English politicians are keen to send Strange abroad to the battlefields where he can be of most help. Although initially very reluctant, Mr Norrell changes his mind when he sees this as a means to get Strange out of the way. Strange, like an eager puppy, bounds off to War, anticipating excitement and adventure. Strange would much rather be out on the battlefields with the Army, actively putting his magic to the test, than poring over magic books in Mr Norrell’s library, restricted to only studying those aspects of magic Mr Norrell deems appropriate.

The Gentleman returns towards the end of the episode and makes his presence felt. He is particularly drawn towards the youth and beauty of Arabella Strange. The audience are left pondering the questions – who is the Gentleman, what does he represent, what is he after, and how many more people will he drag down into the depths?

A thrilling episode, which developed key characters, moved the story on, was packed with action and adventure (and mind-blowing special effects), and introduced us to the Gentleman’s dark world. I can’t wait for next week’s installment when I’m hoping we will find out more about the mysterious Gentleman. Let the magic continue!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Review
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My EQView feature this week was a review of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the BBC’s new lavish period drama. It was a wonderful box of delights - pure magic!

My EQView review of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


On Sunday night BBC One unveiled their new period drama, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, a lavish 7 part adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s 2004 award winning first novel. And what a box of delights it was!

The intertwining stories of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell take place in 19th century England and, right from the opening sequences, this adaptation draws you into that familiar yet strange and mysterious world. This is a period drama with a difference – it revolves not around money, marriage and manners, but around magic. This focus on magic makes it both unique and very special.

The story opens with Mr Segundus visiting the prestigious Society of Magicians in York to enquire “Why is magic no longer done in England?”. Segundus wants to know why magic is now only found in the pages of books, rather than being practiced out in the streets and on the battlefields. The answer he receives is that the role of these gentleman magicians is to study magic not to perform it – they are theoretical magicians not practical ones!

Not content with this answer, Segundus sets out in search of the two English magicians he has heard about and tracks down Norrell, who has been busy buying up and hoarding all the books on magic and is proud to call himself a practical magician. When Segundus returns to tell the Society of Magicians in York about Norrell, they challenge Norrell to prove his magic, which he is able to do by making the statues in York Cathedral come to life. After proving his magical abilities and credentials in York, Norrell decides to go to London to offer his services to help England’s War effort.

There are a few delightful scenes which follow, where we see the quiet, reclusive and introverted Norrell, a Yorkshireman, arriving in London and having to break into London society. London society is shown to be very superficial and shallow, and its worst attributes are represented by the duo of Drawlight and Lascelles, who decide they will take it upon themselves to introduce Norrell to London society’s movers and shakers. The London scene is one long social swirl and all poor Norrell wants to do is to retire home and immerse himself in his magic books!

We are also introduced to Jonathan Strange in the opening episode, who is to be the second practical magician in England. Strange, when we first meet him, is a man who is in search of an occupation and a purpose. His intended bride, Arabella, is adamant he must make himself useful before he proposes. Luckily for Strange, his father dies at this very opportune moment, making him an estate owner and a landowner overnight, a firm foundation on which to build. Also, fortuitously for him, Vinculus, a street magician from London finds him, and foretells that he is going to be a magician. Maybe Strange’s vocation has found him rather than the other way round!

Initially Norrell’s offers to help with England’s War effort are met with cynicism by Sir Walter Pole, who fails to see how a magician can be of any help. However, Sir Walter experiences a deep personal tragedy when his fiancée dies a few days before they are due to be married. Norrell comes to the rescue but to bring the bride-to-be back to life he has to accept the help of the Gentleman, and promises him half of her life to come. Chillingly, to seal the deal, the Gentleman takes half of the lady’s little finger as surety. Sir Walter is overjoyed at the return of his bride-to-be, but what terrible price will she have to pay, and will the cost be too much to bear? Norrell runs off, depressed and unhappy with the deal he made.

In summary, this TV adaptation lived up to, and far exceeded, my expectations. It conjured up a mysterious England, a place where magic thrives. All the actors were excellent, bringing their characters to life, and perfectly translating them from page to screen. Special effects were used sparingly but, when employed, had maximum impact and were magical. And the opening episode ended on a real cliffhanger because you were left wondering what terrible price Lady Pole would have to pay in the future for the deal Norrell made with the Gentleman. The audience does not know who the Gentleman is, or what he represents, but he bore a strong resemblance to the Devil and was certainly from the dark side!

An excellent opening episode. I cannot wait to see how the story unfolds next week and what further mystery and magic lies in store. If you missed it on Sunday, catch up with it now before the second episode screens. If you don’t, you will be missing out on a treat!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One.
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SHERLOCKED – Andrew Scott Q&A
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My EQView feature this week was a report on Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, and my own personal highlight - a Q&A with Andrew Scott who plays Jim Moriarty,

My EQView feature on Sherlocked is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


Last month I attended Sherlocked – the Official Sherlock Convention. Sherlocked featured cast and creators from Sherlock and gave fans the chance to gather together and immerse themselves fully in the world of the show for a whole weekend.

Sherlocked featured talks, Q&As, photoshoots, autograph opportunities, screenings, set displays, costume displays, prop displays, exhibitions, parties and exclusive merchandise. All a fan could ever wish for.

Key cast members and creatives, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, were in attendance, signing autographs, giving photo opportunities and leading talks.

I bought a bargain basement Weekend Pass allowing me access to Sherlocked all weekend, and treated myself to a photo shoot and a talk with my favourite Sherlock actor, Andrew Scott, who plays Jim Moriarty, Sherlock’s nemesis.

The Andrew Scott photo opportunity and the talk were the two highlights of my Sherlocked weekend. Andrew Scott’s talk was just fabulous and so this is my write-up of his talk and Q&A.

We learnt that Andrew had always wanted to play a villain but, when he was younger, he looked far too innocent and so was never considered for any villain roles.

He was asked if he was surprised to be cast as Moriarty, given Professor Moriarty is depicted as an elderly Professor in the Paget illustrations. Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, by contrast, is young. Andrew explained that he never watches other interpretations of Moriarty. He prefers to come to the material fresh, make the character his own, and deliver something new.

Andrew’s new interpretation of the character provoked extreme reactions in Sherlockians and Holmesians worldwide. People either loved or hated the new Moriarty. Andrew saw this as a good thing – he wanted his character to elicit strong reactions in people, whether positive or negative.

Andrew spoke about his interpretation stating that he saw Moriarty as a solitary character, someone who is highly intelligent but lonely and has no friends. Moriarty has no one to love, and no one loves him. Moriarty sees Sherlock as someone who is similar to himself, and he is envious of the strong friendship Sherlock has with John. This leads to Moriarty becoming obsessed with Sherlock because Sherlock has something that Moriarty will never have. Throughout the series, Moriarty’s isolation is contrasted with the strong bromance between Sherlock and John.

Andrew was asked whether he had a particular backstory in mind for Moriarty. He responded that the character was scarier without a definitive backstory. The less the audience knew of Moriarty’s past, the more terrifying he became.

Andrew explained that, whilst Moriarty is a villain, everyone has light and dark within them. He spoke about accentuating the darkness within himself, but how he was also keen to have fun with the role and fully embrace the playfulness of the character.

Andrew spoke about how Moriarty is used so sparingly throughout all three series. For example, in Series 1, Moriarty only appears in the final 10 minutes of the last episode. Andrew felt the minimal use of Moriarty maximized the impact of the character when he did appear.

Andrew talked about how some of the most famous moments were created, for example his line “I will burn the heart out of you” in the swimming pool scene. There were multiple takes for each scene and Andrew would play the line a different way each time, going wherever his inspiration took him. Sometimes his attempts would be cringeworthy but, at other times, there would be a flash of genius and the scene would work perfectly.

Andrew’s favourite scene so far in Sherlock has been the sequence where he breaks into the Tower of London to steal the Crown jewels for fun. He enjoyed filming the whole scene but especially the dancing!

He was asked which character in Sherlock he would most like to play. He surprised me with his answer … Mrs Hudson! Andrew spoke about how amazing Una Stubbs was in the role and how, although she had very few lines and minimal screen time, Una could work her magic in a scene and, with a very light touch, make it truly memorable.

A member of the audience asked whether he preferred working on stage or on screen. He explained he was very passionate about theatre because it enabled actors to connect directly with the audience there and then, something film and TV does not allow.

The work Andrew was most passionate about was that early on in his career, where he was playing in small-scale fringe venues to relatively small audiences. The ensemble companies were small but they all wanted to tell a story and, because they knew each other very well, they were able to express themselves and find a voice within that close knit and supportive environment. Acting was about believing in the work and finding a way to express yourself, not about chasing fame and fortune.

Andrew was asked which of his many films he was most passionate about and he chose Pride. Pride was his favourite script, he was committed to telling that story, and very proud to be involved with the film. Filming Pride taught him the valuable life lesson that all human beings are essentially the same and share a common humanity. Things turn out better when you focus on what binds people together, rather than highlighting their difference.

Andrew’s Q&A was an absolute joy. I learnt about the character of Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, how he was created and developed and how he is played, and about Andrew’s passion for the theatre and what motivates him in his work. My only regret was that the Q&A was not longer!

Sherlocked, the Official Sherlock Convention, took place from Friday 24 April to Sunday 26 April at the ExCel Convention Centre in London, and was organized by Massive Events, in association with Hartswood Films and Showmasters Ltd.

The Vote, Donmar Warehouse and More4 - Preview
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My EQView feature this week is a preview of The Vote, a play which will be broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse to British TV screens on More4 tonight, the night of the General Election.

My EQView preview of The Vote is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


General election fever has not only taken over the EQView homepage, but has also gripped the Arts Section. Here I am previewing The Vote, a play the whole of Britain can experience for themselves on General Election night (Thursday 7 May) when the production will be beamed live from the Donmar Warehouse to TV screens across the nation on More4.

Set in a fictional London polling station, The Vote dramatises the final 90 minutes before the polls close in the 2015 General Election. The play looks at what happens in Britain on election night through the eyes of the many diverse characters we find at the polling station.

The play has a very large ensemble cast (39 actors in total), including star names such as Judi Dench, Mark Gatiss, Catherine Tate and Timothy West.

The huge ensemble cast represents the diversity of modern day Britain and the play will look at all of these characters, exploring the election through a range of perspectives.

The Vote is a new play by one of my favourite contemporary “political” playwrights, James Graham. Examples of his earlier work that I have enjoyed immensely include Tory Boyz (Soho Theatre), This House (National Theatre) and Privacy (Donmar Warehouse).

I think the play will be best experienced when you know nothing more than what I have written, so on General Election night just tune in to More4, sit back, relax and enjoy!

The Vote will be broadcast live from the Donmar Warehouse in London’s West End to More4 from 8.25pm to 10pm on Thursday 7 May, the night of the General Election.

The Glass Protégé - Meet the Writer - Dylan Costello
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My EQView feature this week is an interview with Dylan Costello, the playwright of The Glass Protégé, which I reviewed last week. The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

My EQView interview with Dylan Costello is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


The Glass Protégé is a new play, currently running at the Park Theatre in London. It takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, the operation of the Hollywood studio system, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

I saw the play recently and wrote a review. I thought the writing and the acting was exceptional and it made me want to find out more about how the play came about. So I interviewed Dylan Costello, the playwright, to find out how and why he came to write the play.

EQView: What do you value about writing for the stage?

Dylan Costello: I love the raw energy and risk-taking of theatre and the fact that you can really push the envelope with a play. You can be controversial, you can make political comment, you can basically say whatever you want to say without having to pander to any ‘censorship’.

When you write a screenplay, you know straightaway that the studios will immediately disapprove of certain language, characters and plot points to make it as palatable as possible to a mass audience, but with theatre you don’t have to water things down, you can just put out your true voice and let the audiences decide whether they will love or hate you. That’s the meaning of true creativity and theatre allows it to happen.

Tell us about how The Glass Protégé came about.

Ideas for scripts come to me in the most random of moments and the initial idea for The Glass Protégé came about from fancying Cary Grant!

I was living in Los Angeles in 2005 and spent an unusually rainy afternoon watching several old classic movies that I had never seen. Watching Cary Grant in The Bishop’s Wife, a gem of an idea formed about a young woman in the present day falling in love with a handsome movie star just from his image on a 1940s movie poster. And so the story of The Glass Protégé was that of an unrequited love between a young immigrant woman and an ageing, reclusive former Hollywood movie star.

This was the initial story until I decided that the movie star needed to have a secret that had caused him to retreat so painfully from the world. What had Hollywood done to him that was so bad?

As an idea started to form, I suddenly had a light bulb moment and decided to make the former movie star gay and see his own unconventional love story unfold decades earlier. The Hollywood gay love affair element then took over as I became enthralled with the lives of gay actors in that era and so The Glass Protégé was born.

What drew you towards the issue of closeted gay actors in Hollywood? Why did you want to bring this particular story to the stage?

It became fascinating for me to have a character who was gay – and had spent his youth during an era when it was illegal to love another man.

It resonated with me and my own youth growing up the 1980s and realizing I was gay in an era when Section 28 was being pushed through and tabloid newspapers were creating a furore over two men kissing each other on the cheek in EastEnders.

And so, I researched the issue of homosexuality in Hollywood actors in the supposed ‘Golden Era’ of Hollywood and was astonished at what I discovered. It was then that I knew that the gay affair in 1940s Hollywood would become the true focus of the story. It was a story I was excited to bring to the stage, especially as Hollywood attitudes towards homosexuality still exist today, especially within the big-budget studio system.

We are living in an era where at the same time as we are finally making much progress with gay rights, those same rights are also being eroded across the globe in various countries.

With The Glass Protégé, we show the sadness of the fact that the homophobic attitudes of 1940s Hollywood are relevant to the same prejudices that are still festering today.

Why did you decide to set the play in two different time periods?

I wanted to keep elements of the original story of the present day relationship between the immigrant woman and the ageing movie star as well as the gay storyline in the 1940s, so thought it would be interesting to jump back and forth in time, so that the audience could gradually put pieces of a puzzle together.

I wanted them to see the older Patrick and know that he got married to a woman and then when they go back to 1949 and see his burgeoning affair with his male co-star, hopefully they would be wondering how this would all go so terribly wrong for our star-crossed lovers.

I’m a fan of movies that don’t stick to traditional linear timelines and wanted to recreate a similar effect for this play.

Are the characters Patrick Glass and Jackson Harper based on real people and are their experiences based on true stories?

The obvious inspirations are the likes of Rock Hudson and Montgomery Clift, the matinee idols being pedaled as the heart throbs to get all the girls spending their precious dollars to see them at the movies, whilst at the same time, being kept firmly in the closet by their bosses and forced into fake relationships and marriages with women.

But whilst Rock and Monty are the two most famous examples, the ‘Hollywood Closet’ was in fact bursting at the seams with many, many of their peers. Even Marlon Brando was rumoured to have dallied with men (I would have quite happily been one of those men if I was alive back then!).

The truth was that sexuality was a lot more fluid back then with stars hopping in and out of bed with both sexes, but of course the fiction presented to the masses, never matched the reality of what was really going on.

Why and how do you think this play speaks to a modern day audience?

The dilemmas faced by our main characters are issues still affecting many LGBT people today.

I really felt for the gay people decades ago whose sexuality was not only illegal but were also forced to live entirely fake lives, just to appease others. And in the case of the Hollywood actors, their repression was solely for the purpose of making as much money as possible for their bosses and the movie industry.

And the sad fact is that these same homophobic attitudes are still prevalent today. We might get complacent that we now have gay marriage in this country, that gay characters are more widespread in movies and on our TV screens but the fight for our rights is never over, not when we have brutal regimes in other countries torturing and murdering people for the ‘crime’ of loving someone of their own sex.

Is any of the homophobia we witness today really that different to Hollywood studio bosses condemning their gay stars to lives of repression and misery?

Do you think much has changed in Hollywood between then and now? Do you think it is possible for a film actor to be openly gay in 2015 and still have a successful film career? Or do gay movie stars still have to remain in the closet?

I do believe that attitudes are very slowly changing and there are a band of openly gay actors who are helping to turn the tide. We have the likes of Russell Tovey, Matt Bomer, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Page being out and proud and not harming their careers in the process.

But of course, the further up the stardom ladder the star resides, the more pressure there is to suppress one’s true sexuality. We have a raft of superhero movies currently flooding out of Hollywood and I’m sure the studios are still scrambling to keep their caped crusaders as palatable to the public as possible. It’s such a condescending notion that the homosexuality of an actor will undermine their believability as a hero with superpowers.

Are the public really that stupid to put the sexuality of an actor over their ability to act and inhabit a character? The Hollywood studios obviously still think that, so yes, there are ‘action heroes’ still being kept locked away in that increasingly dusty closet whilst their braver counterparts are not afraid to let the public know who they really are.

And it’s the courage of those out and proud actors which should be applauded. As Jackson Harper says in the play “Maybe one day, Hollywood will wake up and let us all be who we truly want to be”. We can only hope that it will.

You have an incredibly talented young ensemble cast in the London production. Tell us about the casting process and how you found your actors.

The auditions are the favourite part of the whole process for me. I love seeing the actors come in and see how they interpret the characters and script.

The Glass Protégé’s director Matthew Gould and I held the auditions and saw well over 100 actors for the roles. And it’s so thrilling when an actor comes in and completely blows you away by nailing the role on the spot. We were lucky to have that happen with all of our cast.

Mary Stewart got the ferocity of gossip columnist Nella Newman spot on and when Emily Loomes came in to audition for the role of starlet Candice, Matthew and I just looked at each other excited and knew we had our gal. Emily literally lit up the room with her audition.

We thought we were lucky with Mary and Emily and then along came Paul Lavers, Sheena May and Stephen Connery-Brown who all also nailed their auditions straightaway.

We then found Roger Parkins as Lloyd quite last minute after the original actor withdrew because of illness. Roger came in a few days into rehearsals and inhabited the character straightaway.

And then of course we have our two male leads David R Butler and Alexander Hulme. Interestingly, we never had to audition either of them. I had originally found Alex and David when they sent in video auditions for a filmed promo to help with sourcing some funding for a possible full production, which hadn’t been confirmed at the time. They were both so great on camera that when Park Theatre came back and offered the show a 4 week run, I immediately offered them both the roles and just hoped they would accept and also have amazing chemistry on stage together. And lucky for us that they do. It’s off the charts!

When it finishes its run at the Park Theatre what is next for The Glass Protégé?

After three incarnations in the past five years, I think for now the production will take a rest unless we get interest to take it elsewhere. There has been some talk of possibly staging it in Berlin next in the future so watch this space…

What is next for Dylan Costello? Any new projects in the pipeline?

I have various other stage projects in different stages of gestation so I’d like to get these finished and ‘out there’.

I also have my first Hollywood movie being made within the next year, which is very exciting. I’ve also just been hired as the screenwriter for another movie which has attracted the interest of Sony Pictures.

And as Artistic Director of LGBT-focused production company Giant Cherry Productions, I am planning to move into making some LGBT short movies in the very near future.

It’s going to be a very busy time but I just want to keep pushing my creativity as that what makes me thrive!

The Glass Protégé on the Park Theatre website:

The Glass Protégé - Review
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My EQView feature this week is a review of The Glass Protégé at the Park Theatre. The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage.

An excellent new play, with strong and sharp writing, exploring important and pertinent themes, performed by a very strong ensemble cast. The play has an incredibly beautiful and powerful love story at its core which engages you from the off. Absorbing, gripping and highly recommended.

My EQView Review of The Glass Protégé is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


The Glass Protégé takes an in-depth look at homophobia in Hollywood in the 1940s, the operation of the Hollywood studio system, and how gay actors were forced to remain closeted, often living a lie in a lavender marriage. It explores the impact of these factors on one particular love story – that of the fictionalised Hollywood film stars Patrick Glass and Jackson Harper.

The play begins with two arrivals – Ava, an East German immigrant, arriving in Hollywood in the 1980s, as a mail order bride for a middle-aged American, and Patrick Glassman, an English actor, arriving in Hollywood in the 1940s, to shoot his first movie.

The play switches between the 1940s and the 1980s effortlessly, and it is only as the action unfolds that we realise the connection between the two time periods – we are seeing Patrick Glassman at two points in his life, as a young English actor, newly arrived in Hollywood, and as an older film star, living out his retirement. David R. Butler (young Patrick) and Paul Lavers (older Patrick) helpfully bear a very strong physical resemblance to one another.

Patrick Glassman arrives in Hollywood as a young English actor in the 1940s; this is his big break, he is making his first Hollywood movie, and he arrives with his head full of dreams and brimming with enthusiasm.

One of the first things to happen is that his screen name is changed to Glass because Glassman sounds too Jewish. This practical change highlights themes running throughout the play about hiding a person’s true identity and the importance of a star’s name, image and reputation. It speaks to the levels of personal production and manufactured nature of Hollywood at the time.

In the 1940s section, the play follows Glass’s experiences shooting and promoting his first film, ‘The Secret Heart’, paying particular attention to his developing friendships and relationships with his two co-stars Jackson Harper and Candice Carlyle.

Jackson Harper is a Hollywood movie star and a homosexual. To keep his fans and the media happy, he tells people he has a fiancée back home who wishes to stay out of the limelight. We see Patrick and Jackson meet, we see a spark ignite between them, and we watch as they get to know one another and start to fall in love. We know in our hearts that, because of society’s prevailing attitudes towards homosexuality at this time, there can never be a happy ending to their story, but we care enough about the characters to want to follow them and their journey, wherever it takes them.

Whilst the focus of the play is the love story between Patrick and Jackson, the play contains three strong women characters in the shape of Ava, the East German mail order bride; Candice, the leading lady in ‘The Secret Heart’, and Nella, the Hollywood reporter and Queen of the gossip column. Their stories are central to the action of the play, they all have strong voices in the drama, and they are all fully rounded characters.

By following the individual stories of Philip Glass, Jackson Harper and Candice Carlyle, we see how Hollywood stars were often merely pawns in a game, how little control they had over their own lives, and how they were often forced to live out a lie, marrying purely for the sake of appearances. These Hollywood stars were puppets on a string, dancing to the tune of their bosses, the media and their fans. Gay actors could not be ‘out’, they had to remain in the closet. The play explores very eloquently the misery and heartache this causes in the personal lives of its movie stars.

In the 1980s section, many of the play’s themes are explored in a different context and its messages are reinforced. We look at love, and marriages of convenience, and whether it is ever right to compromise on love. Are marriages born out of love or vice versa? Should you sacrifice your chance of love for your career/a better life? What is more important – fame and fortune or a chance for true love?

There is a very strong ensemble cast and it is a joy to see so many talented young actors sharing a stage. Special mention has to go to David R. Butler playing the young Patrick who puts in a real star turn in the leading man role.

In summary, an excellent new play, with strong and sharp writing, exploring important and pertinent themes, performed by a very strong ensemble cast. The play has an incredibly beautiful and powerful love story at its core which engages you from the off. Absorbing, gripping and highly recommended. Go see!

This is the first time I have been to the Park Theatre and it is a wonderful theatre space. It is brand-new, purpose built, has some great café and bar spaces, and all the staff are friendly, welcoming and helpful. I had a very positive experience and I will definitely be returning in the near future.

The Glass Protégé plays at the Park Theatre until 9 May 2015. It is written by Dylan Costello and directed by Matthew Gould.

The Glass Protégé on the Park Theatre website:

I Am Michael, BFI Flare - Review
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My EQView feature this week is a review of I Am Michael, the Opening Night Gala film at BFI Flare, starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto.

I Am Michael is a provocative film by debut filmmaker Justin Kelly, telling the true story of Michael Glatze, a pioneering gay rights activist who shocked the community by denouncing his homosexuality and embarking on a new life as a Christian pastor.

My EQView Review of I Am Michael is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


I Am Michael is a provocative film by debut filmmaker Justin Kelly telling the true story of Michael Glatze, a pioneering gay rights activist who shocked the community by denouncing his homosexuality and embarking on a new life as a Christian pastor.

The film looks at faith and sexuality and, specifically, Christianity and homosexuality. I Am Michael is one of those rare gems – a film that looks at a hugely contested topic through a new lens.

James Franco plays Michael Glatze and puts in a stellar performance. He pulls off the very challenging feat of portraying a very complex and difficult character in an empathetic way, so the audience wants to follow the character and his journey.

And Glatze’s journey is an intriguing one because he starts out as a gay rights activist and then renounces his gay identity, his partner and his lifestyle. Glatze discards his old self and attempts to build a new one.

We first meet Glatze in his youth, when he is editing and writing for an LGBT magazine for young people, encouraging them to embrace their gay identity, to be proud of who they are, and to form support networks so they are not alone.

At this time Glatze is in a settled long-term relationship with Bennett, played by Zachary Quinto, living in San Francisco, and part of a gay scene with a wide circle of gay friends.

But a real health scare and an ongoing health problem cause Glatze to reflect on his own mortality, and to start thinking about faith and God. As he reads the Bible, and finds religion, he begins to question his work, his identity, his relationship and his lifestyle.

Glatze’s period of self-reflection and Bible Study result in him believing that heterosexuality is a requirement for being with God. He begins to think of the gay identity he previously championed as a false identity, leading towards something he now regards as a sinful lifestyle.

Glatze embarks on a process of taking himself apart and rebuilding himself in a new image with a new identity – a devout heterosexual Christian pastor. This involves leaving Bennett and his old life behind, studying the Bible intensely, attending a Christian College, and acquiring a new girlfriend.

As Glatze progresses along this path of transformation, he writes an article discarding his old identity and openly declaring “I, Michael Glatze, no longer identify as gay”. His old friends and colleagues can only look on in disbelief.

I really felt for Bennett, the long-term partner whom Glatze discards in pursuit of God and Christianity. Bennett genuinely cares for Glatze, and he remains there for him, leaving the channels of communication open. But to be a bystander, watching Glatze pursue a path of self-denial and self-loathing, must cut to the core. Bennett possesses a generous spirit I can only admire and respect but never emulate.

It is heartbreaking and painful to follow Glatze’s journey because his discovery of faith and Christianity do not lead to fulfillment and an enriched life but to Glatze renouncing his gay identity, his true self, his long-term partner, his colleagues and friends, and his lifestyle, in order to follow a path which he believes will lead him to God and Jesus.

Time will tell and, whatever happens, Glatze will have to live with the consequences and the repercussions of his U-turn and his actions, which were so brutal, damaging and hurtful to LGBT communities.

Tori Amos’s powerful song ‘Crucify’ accompanies the closing credits and I watched right through to the end reflecting on how Glatze must feel about himself now, having renounced his gay identity and walked away from his past life, to reinvent himself as a heterosexual Christian pastor. An intriguing, engaging, and completely absorbing film. Highly recommended.

I Am Michael was the Opening Night Gala for BFI Flare. BFI Flare is Britain’s longest running and most popular LGBT film festival, presenting the best in queer cinema from around the world.

BFI Flare Website:

Its the Olivier Awards 2015 tonight!
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The runners and riders I am backing at the Oliviers tonight (I have only listed those I have a strong opinion on):

Richard Armitage for The Crucible at Old Vic
Mark Strong for A View From The Bridge at Young Vic & Wyndham’s Theatre

Kristin Scott Thomas for Electra at Old Vic

Rupert Goold for King Charles III at Almeida Theatre & Wyndham’s Theatre
Ivo Van Hove for A View From The Bridge at the Young Vic & Wyndham’s Theatre

The Crucible at Old Vic
Skylight at Wyndham’s Theatre

King Charles III at Almeida Theatre & Wyndham’s Theatre

Handbagged at Vaudeville Theatre

Miss Saigon at Prince Edward Theatre

Bull at The Maria at Young Vic

Jon Clark for King Charles III at Almeida Theatre & Wyndham’s Theatre

The Olivier Awards Website can be found here:

A full list of all the awards and all the nominees can be found here:

The Olivier Awards 2015 Ceremony takes place tonight (Sunday 12 April) at the Royal Opera House.

ITV will broadcast a highlights programme capturing the best moments from the ceremony after proceedings at the Royal Opera House have come to a close.

There will also be an ITV stage in Covent Garden Piazza where the ceremony will be streamed live.

Confirmation - St Paul's Cathedral, Saturday 4 April 2015
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Photo: Me outside St Paul's Cathedral before the Service

Very proud and honoured to have been Confirmed into the Church of England by the Bishop of London @ St Paul's Cathedral on Holy Saturday (Saturday 4 April 2015). I was part of the St James's Church Piccadilly Group.

Photo: St James's Church Group outside St Paul's Cathedral after the Service

St James's Church Piccadilly website:

Sherlocked Convention - ExCel London, 24 - 26 April 2015
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Looking forward to attending the Sherlocked Convention at the end of this month :)

Confirmation - St Paul's Cathedral, Saturday 4 April 2015
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Photographer: Rakshita Patel

Very proud and honoured to have been Confirmed into the Church of England by the Bishop of London @ St Paul's Cathedral on Holy Saturday (Saturday 4 April 2015). I was part of the St James's Church Piccadilly Group.

To accompany it, I thought I would post a photo of the Cross at St James's Church in Piccadilly on Easter Sunday - this was my first Easter with St James's.

Photographer: Rakshita Patel

St James's Church Piccadilly website:

Palm Sunday, St James's Piccadilly
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Palm Sunday.jpg
Photographer: Rakshita Patel, Sunday 29 March 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Passion Play at St James's Piccadilly, where I played Judas. I was profoundly moved by the experience.

St James's Church Piccadilly website:

Night Shelter, St James's Church Piccadilly
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Light Overcoming Darkness :)

Photographer: Rakshita Patel, Tuesday 17 March 2015

This year I have been volunteering at the Night Shelter at St James's Church Piccadilly, which operates through the Winter months, from December to April, offering homeless guests an evening meal, a bed for the night, and breakfast.

The photo above shows the results of the amazing efforts of our guests and fellow volunteers participating in the candle-making activity on Tuesday evening.

I feel the photo is both beautiful and calming and I have titled it "Light Overcoming Darkness". Enjoy :)

St James's Church Piccadilly website:

BFI Flare - Preview
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This is my EQView Preview of BFI Flare, Britain’s longest running and most popular LGBT film festival.

BFI Flare runs from 19 to 29 March in London and presents the best in queer cinema from around the world. I have being going for many years, I am very excited about this year's programme, and I genuinely think there is something for everyone > Enjoy!

My EQView Preview of BFI Flare is here:

Cut and pasted from the EQView website:


This week I am previewing BFI Flare, the 29th edition of Britain’s longest running and most popular LGBT film festival. BFI Flare runs from 19 to 29 March in London and presents the best in queer cinema from around the world.

I have been going to the BFI London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (as was) for the past few years and it introduced me to the range, depth and sheer diversity of LGBT cinema from around the world. BFI Flare gives me an opportunity to see a wide range of LGBT films that I would not normally get the chance to see.

BFI Flare has three strands:

– Hearts – Films about love, romance and friendship;

– Bodies – Stories of sex, identity and transformation; and

– Minds – Reflections on art, politics and community.

It is very difficult to choose a few films to showcase from such a wide-ranging and diverse programme but I have chosen to focus on the Opening and Closing Night Gala films and films I have booked to see. This makes for a very personal selection.

The Opening Night Gala is I Am Michael, a provocative film which tells the true story of Michael Glatze, a pioneering gay rights activist who shocked the community by denouncing his homosexuality and embarking on a new life as a Christian pastor.

A former San Francisco based writer and journalist, Glatze founded his own trailblazing publication ‘Young Gay America’ in 2004, offering support and giving voice to queer youth. Following years of dedication to the cause, he underwent a crisis of identity, finding himself drawn to religion and a more conservative outlook on life. In 2007, he left not just the magazine, but also his boyfriend of 10 years, to start all over again. The films stars James Franco in the title role.

The Closing Night Gala is Out to Win, an inspirational documentary charting the history of homosexuality in competitive sport, with interviewees including Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, John Amaechi and Jason Collins.

In the competitive world of professional sports, homosexuality continues to be a big issue. With so many athletes afraid that coming out will mark the end of their careers, there is a dearth of proud LGBT sportspeople representing the community and empowering future generations. Thankfully, some brave individuals have spoken out about their sexuality and paved the way for change. Told through the words of these pioneers, Malcolm Ingram’s inspirational documentary charts the history of homosexuality in sport, highlighting the triumphs, and indeed the tragedies, of those fearless forerunners, and profiling the victories of present day stars.

I have booked to see six films as part of BFI Flare, all of which I am very excited about seeing. I am showcasing them to give EQView readers a flavour of the richness and diversity, the depth and breadth, of the films on offer.

The Falling is set in 1969 and is about a mysterious fainting sickness that overtakes an English girls’ school. Lydia and Abbie are best friends, existing largely in a universe of two. Abbie has a natural charisma and magnetism that enthrals Lydia and her peers. When Lydia’s older brother and Abbie sleep together, her fragile world starts to unravel. Then tragedy strikes and a mysterious delirium overtakes the school.

Tab Hunter Confidential is a moving documentary about the one-time matinee idol with a secret. With his chiselled good looks and beautiful physique, it’s not surprising that when Tab Hunter went knocking on Hollywood’s door in the early 1950s the studios welcomed him with open arms, making him an overnight sensation. But Hunter was a star with a secret, one he knew would ruin his career if it was ever made public and that he felt unable to talk about until now. The director coaxes a remarkable testimony from the once-closeted Hunter, tracing what life was like inside the Hollywood machine for a gay actor.

Something Must Break is a striking coming-of-age tale about a young trans teen living in Stockholm. Sebastian is a shy trans teen whose world is rocked by the arrival of an alluring young man named Andreas. Initially captivated by Sebastian’s non-traditional outlook, as the relationship between the pair develops Andreas soon begins to feel threatened by it, and the sense of impending tragedy is never far away.

Tiger Orange contrasts big city morality and sex culture with small town values in a sweet tale of two gay brothers from rural California. An absent mother and a harsh father don’t make for the happiest beginnings and Todd is the brother who left town, while Chet stayed, looked after his father, and ran the family hardware store. When Todd’s promiscuous LA lifestyle falls apart and he is forced to return home, the story properly begins. Chet’s shy refusal to engage with a gay lifestyle is thrown into high relief by Todd’s very modern engagement with online sex, outdoor cruising and full-on misbehaving. The clash of cultures forces both of them to re-examine who they are in a tale of small-town regret and brotherly misunderstanding.

Jamie Marks Is Dead is an unconventional horror film focusing on adolescent loneliness and isolation, and exploring adolescent awakening and sexual identity. When the lifeless body of a young outcast named Jamie Marks is discovered naked and abandoned by a local river, sensitive jock Adam becomes fascinated by the sad demise of the high school pariah. As Adam forges a tentative relationship with Gracie, the girl who discovered Jamie’s body, he finds himself haunted by spectral visions of his former classmate, and soon begins to realise that Jamie has some unfinished business and needs Adam’s help to find peace in the afterlife.

The Last One: Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt, is a moving documentary following the AIDS memorial quilt as it tours the US in a mission to change social perceptions of the disease. The brainchild of AIDS activist Cleve Jones, the AIDS memorial quilt is the largest piece of folk art in the world. It commemorates the thousands of victims of the disease in segments the same size as a standard grave. Yet in each of these segments is the proof that love, admiration and a determination to fight stereotypes were present in the worst years of the epidemic.

Finally, there are a number of events taking place as part of BFI Flare, including talks and club nights, and I wanted to highlight one in particular. On Saturday 28 March, LAGNA presents Chris Birch and Mike Jackson talking about the film Pride. Chris Birch was a friend of the activists featured in Pride, and Mike Jackson was the co-founder of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. They will talk about the importance of the film and the lives of the people who inspired it. This is a free event but tickets have to be booked in advance.

If you are based in and around London, I would recommend you sample BFI Flare this year. There is something for everyone!

Public booking for BFI Flare is open and the Festival itself opens TOMORROW!

BFI Flare Website where you can explore the programme in full and book tickets:

Cocktail + Cocktails via Pop Up Screens
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Last night I went to this event:

Cut and pasted from the Pop Up Screens Website:


Saturday 14 March 9pm - Notting Hill, 20th Century Theatre

We’re opening our own speakeasy tucked away on Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Our speakeasy will be a little different though, so brace yourself for cocktails and movies. We’re finding some of the best films out there and serving cocktails related to that film and the best part: these are included in your ticket price! The film will be accompanied by 3 cocktails, a sweet treat and some nibbles. Join us and Tom Cruise for a Red Eye and a poem.

Highlights from last night's screening:





Read all about it here!

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