Monday, 4 February 2019

Grindr The Opera at Above The Stag | Review

Bringing technology to life in human form is not a totally new concept but bringing to life the app Grindr in the form of an opera is certainly something entirely new and not to be missed. This genius concept is the brainchild of Erik Ransom, the show explores the different relationships that gay men have with the app and also looks into topics like sexual health. Grindr The Opera is mostly about exactly what you'd assume it is, but with some sweet moments and clever entanglement of each characters stories.


Christian Lunn was nothing less than memorising in the role of Grindr, he transformed what is a very small theatre into something that felt more like an 1,000 seat theatre as he took to the stage in heels and the most incredible costume, they got Grindr's look spot on that's for sure. The only way that I could describe his voice is that it is out of this world, I've never heard anything like it and I don't believe I ever will again. Tom Blackmore and Tom Mann backed him up as Occulto and Dilectus, always hovering in the background and scheming, I implore you to keep one eye on them as their reactions to the main action happening on stage are sensational.


We're introduced to each character and what they are looking to get out of Grindr, before they are joined together throughout the show. Tom and Devon, played by Ryan Anderson and David Malcom, go from having a no strings attached encounter to having quite a sweet relationship, the tone of which is set by a gorgeous song 'You Can Leave'. Having seen Ryan in Bat Out Of Hell previously I was over the moon to see him in Grindr, where he is given far more opportunity to show off just how incredible his voice is, it is the role a voice like his deserves.


William Spencer and Dereck Walker make up the rest of the cast as Jack and Don, two very different characters who play an important role in Tom and Devon's stories. Whilst their stories might feel secondary I think Don in particular is a much needed character, we almost assume that since it's 2019 everyone is out and proud but Don is a representation of a man who grew up in different times and has been left with damaging opinions because of that. His duet with David Malcom was particularly powerful and I was left impressed by the way both of them acted the song. William Spencer is not to be forgotten, he made me laugh so much with 'Cum Dumpster', a song that really left no room for questions about the theme of this show.


At the end of Act 1 I did feel as though I wasn't sure where the show could on from there, I began to question if the show even had an interval as it felt like a natural stopping point but the connection of all the stories in Act 2 did prove it's importance for me. My only other criticism is the lack of diversity on stage, something that was briefly nodded to within the show itself as racism, transphobia and more are still issues on Grindr and within the LGBT+ community.

Grindr gets 4 stars from me for a fun and surprisingly sweet show, a genius concept and the most engaging and talented cast.


As for the access, Above The Stag (the UK's only full time professional LGBT+ theatre), was my favourite kind of accessible theatre, the kind that doesn't separate me from my friends. The bar and both theatres within the venue are completely accessible, with the wheelchair space in the main theatre being on the second row with an unrestricted view and if you're a wheelchair user like me you'll know how much of a rarity it is to sit so close to a stage with a clear view. The accessible toilet is plenty spacious enough and the staff were all really helpful, with one of them greeting me to explain where the wheelchair space was. LGBT+ spaces can so often be inaccessible for disabled people so to come across a completely accessible and LGBT+ theatre is a game changer and I'll be sure to keep an eye on their upcoming shows for a return trip. 

Grindr: The Opera is currently playing until February 23rd at the Above The Stag theatre in Vauxhall, book your tickets here.
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