Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens is not really a musical, but rather a song cycle, or collection of songs and poetic verse. The common theme between these elements is the NAMES Project AIDS memorial quilt, a collection of more than 40,000 panels sewn together - each commemorating the life of someone lost to the AIDS epidemic.

First produced in 1989, Elegies has been performed all over the world, including a West End run in 1993. It’s even been at the Fringe before, in 2006 when RSAMD staged a very credible version of it at Augustine’s.

Latymer Theatre Company do a reasonably good job with this production, but it can be best described as lumpy. Some performances were simply outstanding, but followed by less-than-perfect singing or acting. Put some of this down to nerves, and some to lack of technique. But there are two reasons why I applaud Latymer Theatre Company, especially on the day I saw the show. Halfway through the number ‘I don’t do that’, the stand holding the piano keyboard that had been stage right collapsed, smashing a bulb and causing quite a commotion. The actors just kept on going. Bravo.

But a more enduring reason why I think we should encourage Latymer with praise is their choice of subject matter. The sixteen actors on stage were probably not out of their teens, and it would be so much easier to bring Little Shop of Horrors or (god forbid) High School Musical to Edinburgh, but they have decided to stage Elegies. A show that pulls no punches about its homosexual content. Bravo, again, Latymer.

The direction makes good use of the limited space in the Zoo Southside Studio, and has the ensemble standing behind the audience between their own moments on the stage. If one thing really is notably missing though, it's the quilt. The actors even gesture to an empty back wall at times, I can't help thinking someone forgot to put it up.

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