How would you spend your last night on earth? If you knew the time and date of your departure from this world, what would you do as the time approached? You could sit at home and contemplate life or maybe spend an evening with your loved ones. Alternatively, you could spend your last night celebrating the life you led and the one you will miss. If this is your option, then you will be like Michael, the main character of Cruise who is back in London for a limited tour at the Apollo Theatre.
22-year-old Jack (Jack Holden) has decided to give something back to the community. As a young gay man enjoying all that London has to offer, Jack volunteers to work for Switchboard, an LGBT+ helpline and counseling service. After completing his training, Jack is ready to fly on the phones. One Saturday morning, Jack arrives for his slightly damaged shift. It was, as the saying goes, having it big the night before. He hasn’t slept, may still be a little drunk, and definitely has illegal substances running through his body. Still, it’s not too bad, as there are two volunteers on the rotation this morning. While the other is middle-aged and to Jack’s young mind, a bit perverted, at least there will be something to help him. But, as the first call comes in, Jack is alone and faces something very unexpected. As the phone rings, Jack picks up and a man named Michael is on the other end. Middle-aged Michael is at first a little reluctant to talk to someone so young – echoing some of Jack’s insecurities – but eventually responds to Jack and tells the young boy his story, from his first days as a young boy arriving in 1980s Soho, until February 29, 1988, the best night of his life. For it was the day he was told he would die of the “gay plague” he was diagnosed with in 1984. This is no ordinary story and, as Jack listens intently, he changes as nobody forever.
Cruise opened in May 2021 and critics at the time couldn’t hold back from praising the show. Positive descriptors, as well as 4 and 5 star summaries were thrown like confetti, with Olivier’s nominations following closely behind everything else. I saw it on that first run and was totally blown away by every aspect of the show. I am incredibly happy to say that 15 months later, Cruise is still as fantastic as the first time I saw it.
Much of the success of the show is due to the skill of Jack Holden who not only performs the show but also writes it. Jack manages to paint a picture of 1980s Soho and the characters living there with such clarity and detail, you feel you’re really there, reveling in that time of decriminalization and the start of the AIDS epidemic. , and its devastating consequences for homosexuals. community. Considering the potential of Cruise for being a very heavy and rhythmic piece, it is surprisingly funny, lively and totally convincing.
Cruise is a one-man show but Jack fills the stage with very individual and identifiable people. From main protagonist Michael, to my favorite Polari Gerald, to a weary and cynical RVT drag queen, a friendly bartender, and a music producer who becomes a divine figure behind the decks of Heaven. Each is there for you, the audience, to meet and enjoy. I personally believe Holden could perform the piece on an empty stage with no lights, music, etc., and it would still be an amazing show.
Luckily, he doesn’t have to and has music composer and sound designer John Patrick Elliott on stage, who, along with Nik Corrall’s evocative set and costume, is used by director Bronagh Lagan to add an extra level. of realism to history.
To summarize. My girlfriend Lynne told me when I left the theater that I had to give Cruise five stars and, although she is not always right, this time I totally agree with her. I honestly can’t say how much Cruise blew me away and I don’t think there are enough superlatives to express my opinion on it. Cruise is at the Apollo until September 4 – proving there’s still some great theater in London in August (who needs Edinburgh?) – and believe me, this is a show you’ll definitely be kicking your ass if you can’t get a ticket before that’s fine.
Review by Terry Eastham
CRUISE is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on Earth.
When Michael was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he was told he had four years to live. So, time is running out, he and his partner, Dave, decide to sell their house, whip the car, spend everything they have, and party like it’s the last days of Rome.
On the last night of his four-year countdown – February 29, 1988 – Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favorite jacket, heads to Soho, and embarks on a long night of goodbyes. He dances, sings and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all of his business taken care of, Michael quickly survives.
Apollo Theatre, London
Reservation until September 4, 2021