Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Resident Alien, May 26, 2016 ***1/2


Written by Tim Fountain
At foryfivedownstairs, until June 12, 2016
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 26, 2016
Stars: ***1/2

 Review also online at Herald Sun Arts and in print. KH
 Paul Capsis as Quentin Crisp, pic Sarah Walker

When asked to what he attributed his longevity, the infamously and theatrically camp Quentin Crisp replied glibly, “Bad luck.”

The English-born Crisp lived to 91, spending his final years in his notoriously filthy, single room in a New York boarding house and Paul Capsis channels this geriatric, acerbic Crisp in Tim Fountain’s one-man play, Resident Alien.

Capsis captures Crisp’s cultivated English accent, affectedly elongated vowels, flamboyant and effeminate style, dry wit and his absolute disregard for other people’s opinions of him.

In his sympathetic and detailed portrayal of Crisp, Capsis balances pathos with wry humour, depicting him as both a resilient old geezer and as a caricature of his own public image.

Capsis, as Crisp, looks decrepit in his grubby, silken dressing gown, wallowing on his stained bed or negotiating an achingly slow path through piles of books and dust (set and costume by Romany Harper).

Then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, he dresses painfully slowly in his gaudy, peach shirt, black velvet suit and wide-brimmed, maroon, feathered hat tilted at a rakish angle and applies his make up in preparation to leave his room.
 Paul Capsis as Quentin Crisp, pic Sarah Walker
There is no self-pity in this old man who is witty and oddly sage, outrageous and uncompromising, conservative and controversial in his views that were not aligned with gay politics, despite his role as a gay icon.

Fountain’s script, directed with assurance by Gary Abrahams, draws on Crisp’s final book of essays and the dialogue is littered with pithy witticisms, epigrams and memories of Crisp’s life in which style was his driving force.

Crisp was in “the fame business”, providing comment for cash or flouncing about at events while he could still walk but, despite his evident superficiality, his commentary is often poignant and his peculiar, prismatic views illuminate our own lives.

By Kate Herbert

Paul Capsis as Quentin Crisp

Director Gary Abrahams
Set Romany Harper
Light Rob Sowinski
Sound Daniel Nixon

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