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Tim McArthur – theatre director, actor, singer, international cabaret artist and now playwright – celebrates women and Eurovision in two productions that he has written and devised, A Word for Mother and Eurovision Your Decision. Both are due to open next week at Upstairs At The Gatehouse and The King’s Head Theatre, respectively.

– by Tim McArthur – 

Olly Alexander, the UK’s representative for this year’s Eurovision Song contest, is not the only one who is feeling dizzy! I have been working in the entertainment industry for just under 30 years. It’s always a precarious business being a “Queer” creative and self-employed. At the moment I find myself in a rare position where I have two shows that I have written and devised opening in the same week.  Eurovision Your Decision at the New King’s Head Theatre in Islington and A Word for Mother at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate. 

For many years I have been a massive fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, coming out when I was 15 in the North East of England, being severely bullied, having no friends and wanting to leave. Looking back, I think it give me a sense of escapism, the campery, the showbiz, the hilarity of the competition. A silly fun night’s entertainment. 

Eurovision Your Decision, is based on the event itself. Four performers take to the stage and perform 13 songs from the back catalogue of Eurovision. In the interval the audience vote for their favourite performance of the evening. Even us actors have no idea who is going to win. We have idents before the songs and the always crazy section of receiving the jury votes from around Europe. In all honesty it is Eurovision! 

The show originated in 2004 at the Jermyn Street Theatre, in those days we had no mutli-media capabilities. But in 2021 when I was programmer of The Cabaret Lounge at Above the Stag Theatre, I brought EYD back with the modern technology it had craved. So, here we are about to do our 4th year, with previous runs at Above The Stag Theatre, Wonderville, last year and now about to play the Kings Head Theatre. This year’s presentation feature 13 songs that we have not performed before. I even find myself (she is nearly 50), going from the Wild dances of Ukraine, into making sure I don’t get lipstick on my collar. I hope my mum would be proud of me. 

Tim McArthur has written A Word For Mother on stage at Upstairs at the Gatehouse.

My mum sadly passed away in 2016, (about to hit the 8th year anniversary of her death). This period is always a strange time, the anticipation of the day itself and the memories of that dreadful week always surface. My mum had been ill for quite some time and her illness was treatable for a time, we always knew that, that time would end. I began to think, what would have happened if we hadn’t known that and one day she just wasn’t there anymore. 

I have always had a great connection with women of all ages. My dad passed away when I was 9, my brother moved to London, so this left me and my mum alone together. In many ways I became the man around the house. Us gays seem to have a strong bond with our mothers. But not everyone does. 

A Word for Mother explores what happens when the mum dies suddenly. Her three daughters each remember a pivotal conversation they had with her. As the play progresses the secrets, lies and hidden tensions all come to the surface. There are not many plays that just feature female characters and this was important to me. A celebration of how strong they can be when faced with challenges. I also wanted to write about grief which I fear in this country is still a taboo subject. When babies are born everyone rejoices and celebrates. But when someone passes, of course people are sad, but isn’t someone’s life a celebration. All in all, two productions I have written and devised. One celebrating women and the other Eurovision. How gay is that?? 


A Word For Mother runs from 1 – 26 May at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, 1 North Road, Highgate Village, London N6 4BD, United Kingdom.

Tickets for A Word For Your Mother: https://upstairsatthegatehouse.ticketsolve.com/ticketbooth/shows/1173649271/events/428619614


Eurovision Your Decision runs from 29 April to 11 May at King’s Head Theatre, Main House, 115 Upper Street, London N1 1QN, United Kingdom.

REVIEWS:

★★★★ “An Amazingly Entertaining Night Out” – London Theatre Reviews

★★★★ “Stupendously Silly Eurovision Treat” – The Reviews Hub

★★★★ “Hilarious, Barking Mad and Simply Brilliant” – All That Dazzles

Tickets for Eurovision Your Decision: https://kingsheadtheatre.com/whats-on/eurovision-your-decision


 

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