Pardon Me!

Joel Grey1Grey gays are in the news right now. For a start, Joel Grey, the actor who found fame as the camp Emcee from Cabaret, came out publicly at the grand old age of 82. His revelation prompted a conversation about the point of coming out so late in life, as if sexuality only preoccupies the young. For me, coming out at any age is better than never coming out at all. I guess that’s easy for me to say but I’m saying it anyway. A story I recently heard on the radio illustrates my point. A carer used to visit an elderly man. One day he unburdened his ‘dark secret’ and confessed to her that he was gay – but his shame stopped him from ever acting on his feelings. He died as he had lived. Alone.

And then there’s the Royal Pardon granted to Alan Turing. This was the man who cracked the Enigma codes used by German U-boats in World War Two and who many historians believe shortened the conflict by two years. Alan Turing was gay. Shortly after the war, he was convicted of gross indecency (a crime that only applied to gay men) and was chemically castrated. A fine reward from a grateful nation. He committed suicide soon after.

Imitation Game1

Following a determined campaign by his family, Alan Turing was pardoned in 2013, nine years after the offence of gross indecency was itself finally repealed. Last year, a film about his life was released, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the mathematical genius. And now, the success of the Imitation Game has encouraged a new campaign, this time to pardon all 49,000 men convicted of gross indecency. Most of these men would have had their lives torn apart by this nasty little law. Some will be still be alive. Benedict Cumberbatch, the lovely lovey with the glorious name, has signed an open letter to the British Government in support of the campaign. There’s a petition. Please sign it if you can. I think it’s the least we can do.

The Petition

I’ll finish off with my own little story about coming out in old age. Liam and I were having a bottle of red in our local when we overheard a conversation by a couple of old codgers standing next to us at the bar. It went something like this:

Frank and Stanley


You’re never too old for a cuddle. I wonder what the happened in the end?

Life is a Cabaret, Old Chum

Liam has made friends with the Theatre Royal which means he’ll be dragging me along to every passing production doing the provincial rounds. As a taste of things to come, we popped along to catch the latest re-working of a treasured old favourite. Deliciously dark and tragically ironic, Cabaret is poignantly set within the doomed metrosexual decadence of Weimar Berlin before the monstrous social cleansing of Nazi Germany. These days, it takes big money to put on big shows and the best way to get bums on seats is to roll out the big names. This time round, the Kit Kat Club starred Pop Idol winner and grannies’ favourite, Will Young, as the Emcee and ex-Eastender, ex-Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan as Sally Bowles. Putting pop names in the frame isn’t always a recipe for success. Young Will was a tasty revelation. He stepped along with camp Teutonic aplomb and wowed the audience with voice and perfectly paced pathos. Michelle Ryan, on the other hand, was barely serviceable as Sally. Her voice simply isn’t strong or distinct enough to carry off the big numbers and her Julie Andrew’s impersonation had to be propped up by a more talented chorus line. In between the big budget numbers, the dislocated scenes with the run-of-the-mill supporting cast were pedestrian and the deliberate pregnant pauses gave the impression that lines had been fluffed or forgotten. Of course, I’m a small gun critic so what do I know? But I suspect that when the show hits the West End, the big guns may well turn on at least one of the the big names.

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