MARK FARRELLY: QUENTIN CRISP: NAKED HOPE | London, Jermyn Street Theatre

‘If there were no praise or blame, who would you be?’ The question posed by English writer, raconteur and actor Quentin Crisp, played by Mark Farrelly in Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope, sent thrills through the audience on Sunday night (June 30th.) This one man show had the audience riveted from Mark’s first sweep on to the stage as flamboyant Crisp in coiffured blue and purple wig, fully painted face and nails. 

He effortlessly pulled off a performance of wit and pathos littered with Crisp’s life lessons dressed up in the guise of glittering one-liners. ‘When you need people – it is the end,’ extolled Crisp with a toss of his head and an appreciative glance to the audience as they dissolved into giggles. ‘Wait for society to form around you!’ ‘I have come to the end of my personality, I want peace,’ he opined in old age. 

Boy George wasn’t wrong when he said Mark channelled this legendary wit brilliantly – even his voice and body perfectly mimicked the ageing Crisp. At times it was almost as if this fey raconteur was in the room with us, imploring us to follow in his footsteps and have the courage to be who we truly are. Born Denis Pratt in South London on Christmas Day, Crisp knew exactly what it felt like to live a life on the margins of society vilified for his homosexuality and effeminate style. But even when he was beaten up in the 1930s he transcended self-pity.  ‘If we don’t suffer, how do we know we are alive?’ he questioned.

The play was even more poignant after Mark’s admission that he was inspired to write it after Crisp’s message of hope pulled him out of a dark depression when he split from a partner, was out of work and a friend committed suicide. ‘It is far more difficult to have the courage to be yourself,’ said Crisp. But oh boy are we grateful he was – because he passed on his baton to Mark putting this talented writer and actor firmly on the theatrical map where he belongs. 

To find out more about Mark visit markfarrelly.co.uk.

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