Last Updated on April 21, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
A moving tribute to 1980s Soho
Cruise is an exciting new one-man play written and performed by Jack Holden, that travels back in time to 1980s Soho to pay tribute to the veterans of the AIDS crisis. Prior to Cruise’s opening in the West End in May, there’s a chance to watch an ingenious filmed version of the show that’s well worth watching in its own right.
Cruise is based on a true story told to Holden when he was volunteering for an LGBTQ+ helpline, an experience which he says taught him his gay history. The writer describes his play as “a tribute to a generation decimated by HIV and AIDS, a memorial for the old days of Soho, a celebration of electronic music, and an excuse to dance.”
The main characters are Jack, a 22-year-old trainee at a helpline, and caller Michael, a survivor of the AIDS epidemic whose story forms the backbone of the play.
Besides Holden, the only other person we see on screen is musician and sound designer John Elliott who supplies the 80s soundtrack to Cruise, which covers much nostalgic ground from I Will Survive to Chicago house. Elliott performs much of the music performs live, as well as DJing and providing the sound effects. Holden has a good voice and I was often left wishing that the musical numbers would go on longer.
The filmed play was shot at Shoreditch Town Hall, making good use of its seemingly endless basement corridors, doors, archways, corners and even the gents’ lavatories to stand in for the streets and venues of Soho as well as the helpline office. The lighting design adds much to the atmosphere too and is particularly effective in the clubbing scenes.
Holden, who theatre-goers may have caught in productions such as War Horse (West End) and Ink (Almeida Theatre), is a new discovery for me and a performer of great energy. The camera loves him and it took just seconds for him to capture my interest in the story and then hold it for 90 minutes.
Cruise is moving, fun and engaging and it will be interesting to see how it translates from Shoreditch Town Hall on film to the stage of the Duchess Theatre.
The film of Cruise is available until 25 April at Stream.Theatre.
The live world premiere of the production will reopen the Duchess Theatre for 4 weeks only from 18 May – 13 June.
For tickets and further info visit www.cruisetheplay.co.uk
3e-5 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5LA
0330 333 4810
In May London will start to re-open. We will add reviews and previews as we hear about events and shows. Here’s our roundup of the coming 2021 Summer season at Sadler’s Wells