McQueen

Published August 28, 2015

What’s it all about?

Garlanded in hype when it premiered at the St James Theatre earlier this year, this journey into the mind and history of lauded designer Alexander McQueen has transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

But, as in the fashion world, a different season calls for changes and James Phillips’ show has a new leading lady – Carly Bawden replacing Dianna Agron as the woman who breaks into McQueen’s home and sparks an expedition through his thoughts and his London – an interval and it has been through a rewriting process.

Who’s in it?

If you didn’t already know Stephen Wight’s name, make sure you do now. He’s won newcomer awards earlier in his career but this performance should make everyone sit up and take notice.

Wight is remarkable in the central role of designer Lee McQueen. From the moment you enter the auditorium he is there, solo on the stage; cold, alone, troubled and tormented. As we drive deeper into his life that torment, the pull between striving for life and giving into darker urges, plays constantly on Wight’s face, never far from his thoughts.

It is an incredible performance, a stunning depiction of a genius who refuses to accept that title and of a man whose talent is also his curse.

Bawden’s Dahlia is a powerful catalyst for kicking McQueen into action; a hugely overconfident stalker/burglar whose constant probing pushes McQueen further into his memories, while Tracy-Ann Oberman’s cameo – what a luxury to have a performer of Oberman’s quality in such a brief role – gives us a fabulously OTT yet deeply saddening Isabella Blow.

What should I look out for?

The scene changes. Rather than keep it simple, director John Caird has employed dancers decked out as McQueen creations who appear, as if from the edges of Lee’s mind, to haunt him through the segues from one location to the next.

I’ll say it again, Wight’s superlative performance. It is as striking and harrowing as one of McQueen’s shows.

Who was in the press night audience?

There must be a new series of Strictly in the offing as we spotted Bruno Tonioli and Brendan Cole stretching their highly insured legs in the interval. The similarly graceful Angela Rippon was also enjoying a night at the theatre.

In a nutshell?

Wight’s striking performance is a cut above – a genius portrayal of a genius – in this stylish design drama.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

If you want to see a masterclass in all-consuming character creation, go for Wight.

If you want to delve into the mind of a genius, deftly exploring the unique workings of a unique mind and the dangerous balance between talent and devastation, go for the drama.

If you’re a McQueen fan needing a new hit of the designer’s brilliance following the closure of the Savage Beauty exhibition, go for all of it.

McQueen plays at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 7 November. You can book tickets through us here.

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