We Are Gay UK

THEATRE REVIEW | Jeremy Goldstein’s Truth To Power Cafe

★★★★★ | Truth To Power Cafe

Lady Sasha de Suinn explores acclaimed, LGBT producer Jeremy Goldstein’s latest, gorgeously provocative project.

RESISTANCE IS NEVER FUTILE!

What is speaking truth to power? Imagining a rabbi spitting in Hitler’s face? Legendary black activist Martin Luther King publicly denouncing racism? Or – quite stunningly – Mahatma Gandhi defying the full might of the British Empire with passive resistance?

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The answer, quite obviously, is all of the above – resistance can be unspoken, psychological resolve, as well as direct action, and crucially, I’d add the 1969, Stonewall riots as a pivotal moment that decisively empowered our current, LGBT activism. Ironically, it wasn’t butch clones that beat back the pounding police truncheons in Christopher Street, but frenzied drag-queens on the warpath, non-binary Valkyries completely defying the passive expectations of the riot squad, completely queering the sociological pitch as LGBT mindsets – quite magnificently – have always done to heterosexual stereotypes.

Which brings us to acclaimed, LGBT theatre producer Jeremy Goldstein, and the Truth to Power Café, his latest, ongoing project. Goldstein’s possibly familiar to radical, queer theatre aficionados as the producer of NYC gay icon Penny Arcade’s sublime Bitch! Dyke! Fag-hag! Whore! which I’d never demean and insult by inserting prissy asterisks instead of vowels, as was the case with Penny’s London shows, an abject pandering to the easily shell-shocked constitutions of super-fragile English snowflakes.
Screw that. Goldstein’s previous productions have included a show raging against creeping gentrification at Soho Theatre, and one suspects a penchant for articulate, public rebellion runs in his blood – his father, Mick Goldstein, was a member of the acclaimed, literary Hackney Gang, which included Harold Pinter, and another member, Henry Woolf, gifted Jeremy with the beguiling, evocative text he recites in every show.

So, what precisely is Goldstein’s Truth to Power Café in practice? Briefly, it’s a touring production, and – at each unique venue – Goldstein assembles a one-off cast of speakers he’s previously drawn and selected from online and media application calls. Still – besides Jeremy himself – there’s one constant in every show, the differently-abled actor Otto Baxter, a potent, beautifully visible symbol of applied diversity in action; unlike far too many LGBT ventures that merely pay the notion of inclusivity empty lip-service – Jeremy – quite admirably – talks the talk and walks the walk.

Thankfully, the Truth to Power café is hardly some indulgent producer’s whim, some reluctantly provocative showcase airing spikily contentious rants from disgruntled individuals. Examined more closely, Jeremy’s offering his chosen cast a safe, publicly theatrical space to vent their (mostly) unedited spleen and discontent with lovers, personal and work issues, or – more rarely –pithy, philosophical assaults on the constipated, capitalist thinking which underpins a global tyranny of exploiting and dividing those desperately in need.

And – much more uniquely –Jeremy is one producer who’s not only living, but is also a crucial part of his incandescently passionate dream project. Having never previously performed in public, he’s been so creatively fired by the processes involved in concretely manifesting the show that he’s chosen to risk the adulation – and sometimes, unfortunately – critiques, which go hand in hand with making one’s self and words publicly accountable and vulnerable. Thankfully, he loves it, blooming from a hesitant, nascent performing to assured command of a stage in barely a few, short months.

The shows, typically, begin with Jeremy opening with Henry’s Woolf’s poetic monologue, a tender ode of salvation and consolation to the dispossessed, and Jeremy’s initial stage presence is a hyper-kinetic master-class in restrained finesse. One would, in fact, assume his superlatively assured, theatrical body language was the end product of years of study at the French, Lecoq Institute, the unparalleled doyennes of physical theatre. Slowly smiling, with an uncanny, cocky warmth hugely reminiscent of the infectious, beautifully humane charisma of mime artist Lindsay Kemp, Jeremy prowls, pads and declaims with slow-motion sublimity, at points gently settling a crown on his head and brandishing angel wings, visual cementing the sanctity of the myriad truths being so fearlessly exposed.

Gently giving way to the respective members of the cast, Jeremy then sits in the sidelines, serenely grinning like a satiated Buddha, as each individual in turn denounces, exorcises, or reaches an accommodation with the truths they’ve chosen to confront. Ideally, of course, there would be no limits on the truths expressed, or their contents, but the distressing, current reality is that passionate opinions are routinely misconstrued as potential, legally culpable hate-crimes or slander; so, unfortunately, it’s best not to name identifiable names.

Still, to date, Jeremy’s project of gathering, then detonating, driven, compassionate and articulate voices of dissent has produced pure, magically spontaneous, theatrical gold. And arguably, his ongoing, Truth to Power concept is the most influential and important showcase of LGBT activism currently being staged; it’s pumping with lived, grass-roots queer passion with every thrilling beat of its’ astonishingly gracious, grandly compassionate heart. This, truly, is theatre to terrify the bigoted tyrannies of a Donald Trump, but why wait? Lucky audiences up North can see the show in all its’ blisteringly urgent, irrefutable glory this Saturday, June 1st, 9 pm sharp, at Hull City’s sumptuous Hull Minster Cathedral, 10a-11 King Street, Parish Centre, Hull HU1 2JJ. Be there – this is theatre re-imagined as life-changing art!

Lucky audiences up North can see the show in all its blisteringly urgent, irrefutable glory this Saturday, June 1st, 9 pm sharp, at Hull City’s sumptuous Hull Minster Cathedral, 10a-11 King Street, Parish Centre, Hull HU1 2JJ.

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Be there – this is theatre reconfigured as life-changing art!

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