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When you’re told that 80’s pop icon and lead singer of Erasure, Andy Bell, is fronting a musical with as fabulous a name as ‘Torsten, the Beautiful Libertine’, you know you’re in for a trip to the light fantastic – something out there and avant-garde.

 


Bell cuts an aurally imposing figure as the eponymous Torsten; Polysexual, semi-immortal, and owner of an impressive list of ex-lovers. A myriad of ballads, reprises and musical flourishes soundtrack the lead’s wistful walk down memory lane and seeing Bell in such close proximity as he sings his heart out is a real treat.

The narrative has more of a reflective tone, jumping to pivotal and important moments in his life – from being down and out in Paris to lost loves. Speaking of lovers, he is flanked by the glorious Lana P as the transvestite ‘legendary hooker of Totteridge Park’ and the debonair Peter Straker. Both ex-lovers of Torsten’s, they end up living together and carrying on his memory through their friendship which provides wonderful comedic punctuation and some big laughs to offset the melancholy of Torsten’s solo numbers. Lana in particular is a girl after my own heart, with a foul mouth and quick wit in equal measures.

In a trashy chic Anglomania set that serves equal measures of Ab Fab and Hoarders, our characters wouldn’t look out of place at a Vivienne Westwood runway presentation. The collection of tchotchkes, debris and detritus scattered around the stage recall tumultuous lives well lived, lasting memories fixated upon small idols and props, there’s something of an Alice in Wonderland feel to the whole thing.

Written by Barney Ashton, with music from Christopher Frost and directed by Robert McWhir, the musical is the perfect mix of introspection and humour, from the beautiful music, to the expertly written script, there’s something rather profound and enchanting about the whole production.

Having seen productions the Above The Stag theatre before, it was a marvel that they managed to fit everything in. As the UK’s only dedicated LGBT theatre space, it’s impressive to see such a wide variety of production and staging within the intimate space.

 

• Torsten, The Beautiful Libertine runs from 2nd-27th March at the Above the Stag theatre. For more information visit: www.abovethestag.com/whatson/torsten-the-beautiful-libertin

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