Quentin Crisp – Naked Hope: CultureHUB Review
CQAF, 101 The Redeemer, 08 May ’15
Quentin Crisp – Naked Hope made its Belfast premiere at 101 the Redeemer, with Mark Farrelly playing the irrepressible Quentin Crisp. Following in the footsteps of John Hurt – to whom Quentin referred as “my representative on earth”- is no easy thing, but Mark has truly mastered his affectations, mannerisms and wonderfully pithy wit.
The first half of the play is based in Quentin’s flat in Chelsea in the 1970s’. The script skilfully covers the major events in Quentin’s life, starting in his middle-class childhood with a resentful father, moving to his time as a rent boy, outcast, artists’ model and favourite of the visiting American GI’s. Drawing heavily on Quentin’s novel, The Naked Civil Servant, Mark is equally adept at playing his vulnerable side – the eternal hapless search for that tall dark man – and the flamboyant raconteur, promenading through London in the 1930s’ and later still, striking Pre-Raphaelite poses as artists’ model. The result is a wonderfully rounded portrayal, illuminating Quentin’s enigmatic character.
The second half of the play covers a public performance/lecture in New York in the late 1990’s. Quentin had moved to New York, embracing Manhattan as his home, and blossomed in his media celebrity role. A hunched and husky voiced Farrelly slowly encroaches upon the audience delivering Quentin’s lecture, laced with aphorisms and barbed wit, and leaving everyone in stitches. The lecture was on style, being true to oneself and not giving a damn about pleasing the world around you. On style, Quentin remarked: “Say what you’ve come to say no matter what.” And we are eternally grateful Quentin had the courage to do so, and equally grateful that Mark Farrelly graced the stage at the hallowed 101 the Redeemer. I can’t help but feeling that if Quentin were looking on, he’d be wearing a wry smile.