Victorian England was not prepared for all that Ernest Boulton and William Park dared to be. Walking the streets and frequenting the clubs of Soho dressed as their beloved Fanny and Stella shot them to fame but ultimately led to their arrest in an austere and traditional London. Fanny and Stella serves as a dramatisation of the events leading up to their arrest from their point of view.
Marc Gee-Finch and Robert Jeffrey as Fanny and Stella respectively were a delight from start to finish, bristling with energy and full of grace and catty remarks, everything you’d expect from these two flamboyant and loveable characters. Although Fanny and Stella would doubtless be entertaining enough to hold the stage on their own, a brilliant ensemble enrich their story with a host of cameo characters from exasperated men’s club managers to Scottish landladies.
The piece featured clever use of the space with characters appearing from two ornate wardrobes, making the stage seem like a large boudoir that also effortlessly became courtrooms and prisons. One can only imagine what a larger stage would afford the story and larger than life characters.
From the performances to the music and the script, there really was no fault. The only element that did seem a little lacking was that of the emotional impact of the story, but this left no real blemish whatsoever on the production as a whole. The show was essentially a colourful, glamorous and melodramatic celebration of their tale, not a hard-hitting commentary on the state of LGBT communities in Victorian London. The tone of the show was set up from the opening song Sodomy on the Strand.
This particular performance was blessed with a responsive audience that made the evening even more enjoyable, but latecomers beware: you will be given your very own entrance.
The play wrapped fact with fiction seamlessly and along with Glen Chandler’s writing and the catchy songs by Charles Miller, it made for an extremely fun and engaging piece of theatre, a show that will be hard to forget in a hurry.
Originally posted on Everything Theatre.