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The Yard Theatre has announced an encore run of its acclaimed production, The Flea, from 7 October to 9 November 2024 in response to audience demand. This return promises a tweaked and sharpened version of the original sensation. 

Public booking opens from today, 8 July. 

The Flea by James Fritz focuses on crisis, class, cover-ups, and the crown in a retelling of the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889.

Just four years after the Labouchere Amendment, which made “gross indecency” between men illegal, and ultimately caught up with Oscar Wilde, the Cleveland Street Scandal tore through the fabric of Victorian society when a police raid on a male brothel in Fitzrovia exposed a hidden world of aristocratic clientele and working-class rent boys.

The story is a largely forgotten episode in London’s LGBTQ+ history. The Cleveland Street scandal rocked the nation. At the time, gay male sex was illegal in Britain, and the brothel’s clients faced prosecution and social rejection if discovered.

The government was accused of covering up aspects of the story to protect the names of aristocrats and other prominent patrons. There were rumours that Prince Albert Victor, Queen Victoria’s grandson and second-in-line to the British throne, had visited. The police acquired testimonies that Lord Arthur Somerset, an equerry to the Prince of Wales, was a patron.However, he and the brothel keeper, Charles Hammond, fled abroad before a prosecution could be brought. 

No clients were ever prosecuted, yet the male prostitutes, who also worked as telegraph messenger boys for the General Post Office, could not rely on the same protection network as their upper-class patrons. In acts that echo throughout the ages, they were tried by public opinion and humiliated in the press, then sentenced to jail.

James Fritz is the writer of The Flea which is showing at The Yard Theatre in London
Writer James Fritz

“James Fritz is such an exciting playwright.”

Miriam Gillinson, The Guardian

The production brings together historical intrigue with contemporary queer aesthetics, thrilling critics and audiences alike in 2023.

Jay Miller director of The fleas at The Yard Theatre
Jay Miller. (Credit Camilla Greenwell. Image supplied).

Directed by The Yard’s Founder and Artistic Director, Jay Miller, and the cast will be announced shortly.

“We’re thrilled to bring The Flea back for an extra bite. It’s a hilarious, infuriating reminder that while fashions change, the power structures that we’ve created remain.

Jay Miller

The Flea runs from 7 October – 9 November 2024 at The Yard Theatre, Unit 2a Queens Yard, London E9 5EN, United Kingdom. 


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