Review: CRUISE – an Ode To Gay Culture In The ’80s

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CRUISE opened at The Theatre Linden in Johannesburg and was met with a standing ovation on its opening night. The entire show was filled with jaw-dropping imagery, and an astounding script while being carefully directed to perfection and beautifully performed.

Cruise is a one-man show about the joy, tragedy, and hedonism of the 80s LGBTQ scene. You get to go on a journey of note with magnificent characters of London’s SOHO party district and the storytelling truly makes you go to a different time imagining life and how the story unfolds.

Originally written and performed by Jack Holden, CRUISE has left the United Kingdom to come to South Africa where Daniel Geddes has taken on the challenge (and certainly excelled!) of telling this important and beautiful story.

Cruise is the true story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on earth. When diagnosed with HIV in 1984 , Michael is told he will have four years left to live. So, with the clock ticking, he and his partner Dave decide to sell their house, flog the car and spend everything and party like it is the last days of the world.

Daniel Geddes plays a near-novice volunteer answering the phones at Switchboard, the U.K.’s invaluable real-life helpline serving the LGBTQ+ community since its founding in 1974. Naively confident but comically out of his depth, he’s shown the ropes by his older trainer. On one night when found himself having to manage the lines alone, he starts to engage with an older caller who, initially exasperated by the volunteers’ lack of experience and empathy, decides to teach the young listener a lesson. At which point not just the narrative but the narrator changes. This is where you are truly taken on a thrilling adventure of imagination. Reliving stories that might have been long forgotten and hearing about characters that feel so close to home in the LGBTQ community.

As fresh and relevant as It is, it is also an informative piece that makes you remember the AIDS crisis that the gay community has had to face. The ongoing inner and external issues we still face even today.

Daniel was able to portray so many loveable and tangible bunch of queer male characters for whom your heart bleeds at stages but truly feels for in the end.

He acted the parts of each unique character without changing of clothes or make-up. This created quite a real and RAW experience where simply through his brilliant performance, and mannerisms you were taken on a storytelling filled with emotion and thought-provoking moments… while he remained in casual modern-day jeans and a t-shirt.

The show runs 90 minutes and is truly worth every single minute of it.

Tickets available at www.quicket.co.za

This South African production of Cruise is directed by Josh Lindberg, with original music by Roelof Colyn, set design by Wilhelm Disbergen, lighting by Jane Gosnell, and produced by Colin Law with funding grants from the NAC,  Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, PESP and AfroAsia Philanthropy (Thailand).

Shout out to all of the amazing people that were able to put this show together in South Africa. Below is some additional information on them. They truly deserve all the love!

The Actor- Daniel Geddes 
Daniel Geddes is an actor, director, musician, and composer. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Performing and Visual Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand. His acting stage credits include Naked Knitting and Other Contradictory Acts (2015), Sylvaine Strike’s Devil’s Wood (2016), and  National Children’s Theatre’s Chronicles of Narnia, A Seussified Christmas Carol, and Underneath a Magical Moon. He earned a Naledi nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for his performance of Nicky/Trekkie Monster in VR Teatrical’s Avenue Q (2018) and went on to play Stark the Raven in Janice Honeyman’s Pantomime, Snow White (2018). His most recent stage credits include playing Richard Rodgers in My Favourite Things, and Elton in Elton: The Experience. In film and TV, he has appeared in the mini-series Madiba (2017), Vergeet my Nie (2020), and Binnelanders (2022).

The Director- Josh Lindberg 
Josh is a Creative Director and Executive Producer with an extensive, 27+ years of both locally, across Africa, and internationally. His productions include the award-winning “Birdy” (Best Director, Best Set Design and Best Production) , “Porno Shoppe”, “House of Horrors” (a walk-through, immersive theatre production) “SAFTAs”, “SA Sports Awards”, “Metro FM”, “Airtel Africa”, “Nike Run Jozi”, “Richard Branson”, “Big Brother” and others here in South Africa. In Europe, “Neuland Mysterium” and “This Changes Everything”-both large-scale, immersive multi-media shows. Recently he was the Creative Director and Show Runner of the brand-new live show and TV series, “Battle of the Year Africa”. Josh specialises in conceptualising and implementing live, theatrical, interactive, multi-media, and immersive experiences -inspired by the potential to move an audience -creating in more dimensions.

Original Music – Roelof Colyn 
Roelof Colyn started his professional theatre career in Colin Law’s RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET as the Navigational officer, and after dabbling in being rehearsal pianist and all-round piano player, he went on to work as conductor/arranger/band leader/ rehearsal pianist orchestrator/keyboardist/musical director on shows such CATS, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, FIELA’S CHILD, DIS HOE DIT WAS, HAIRSPRAY, SPAMALOT, MERCURY RISING AND SCRIBBLE, to name a few. He has also worked on QUITE A FEW JANICE HONEYMAN pantomimes and was nominated for a Naledi for his work on PETER PAN.For 17 years and 1000 performances, he was the other half of A HANDFUL OF KEYS (Naledi and Fleur de Cap nominated) and have acted and played in many Afrikaans shows like VIEW OP DIE HIGHWAY by Alexa Strachan. He presented a program on youth and classical music in OVERTURE and was the arranger and band leader for the program ZING! seasons 1 and 2. These days Roelof fills his spare time playing on cruise liners and seeing the world but is always much happier where he is now – working on an incredible theatre production such as CRUISE

Set Design – Wilhelm Disbergen

Wilhelm Disbergen is a prolific theatre designer. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand, he moved to London, where he worked in major design studios and at The National Theatre. A highlight of his stay in London was being the associate designer for  Metropolis Kabarett (directed by Henry Goodman) at The National Theatre.

He regularly works in all major theatres in South Africa and is a multiple winner at the annual Naledi Theatre Awards. In 2018, he added a Fleur du Cap award for lighting design.

For theatre, at the State Theatre, his collaboration with artistic director Aubrey Sekhabi started with Silent Voice, subsequently seen on a national tour, at the World Festival of Black Arts, inDakar, Senegal, and the Edinburgh Festival. This was followed by Sekhabi’s three seminalfreedom plays – Mantolo: The Tenth StepKalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, and The Rivonia Trial. Subsequently he designed Sekhabi’s Hungry (a co-production with theSchauSpielHaus Hamburg), the epoch making Marikana – The Musical, and Freedom: The Musical.

For dance, he has lit full seasons for Cape Town City Ballet, and production designed for Joburg Ballet, Moving Into Dance, Tshwane Dance Theatre, and Tribhangi Dance Theatre. Highlights include three full-length works for celebrated French choreographer Redha Benteifour – Redha’s GiselleCrashDance, and Whispers of my Soul, and his collaborations with Jessica Nupen. He lit her Rebellion & Johannesburg at the Festival Oriente Occidente in Rovereto, Italy, and production designed her Don’t Trust the BorderThe Nose (a film/live performance hybrid), and GEMeinsam, all for Kampnagel, Hamburg.

For opera, he designed Cosi fan tutteCula Mzansi (three new South African operas), Don Giovanni, and L’elisir d’amore

At the National Arts Festival, he designed new works for three Standard Bank Young Artists – Moffie for Bailey Snyman, Sabela for Sonya Radebe, and Purgatory for Kristi-Leigh Grese. At the 2018 festival, he designed Black Privilege for featured artist Mamela Nyamza. He teamed up again with Snyman for Gas Lands, and with Nyamza for Pest Control and Grounded

It’s staging in South Africa is very appropriate, as 2022 marks the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the HIV /AIDS pandemic on the African continent. 

-End-

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Shaun Zietsman https://www.thesomethingguy.co.za

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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