TOM DE FRESTON hates how much he loves this week’s ADC mainshow.

ADC AIDs Music rent Theatre Tom de Freston victoria rigby

ADC, 9-13th November, 7.45pm. £8-12

Directed by Alex Beetschen, Sarah Ward & Laurie Stevens


I arrived at the ADC grumpy and angry for two main reasons. One: I’m too academically pretentious to like musicals. I’m a Modernist; I want my disciplines separate and pure, not mashed together and confusing each other. Two: I found out today that people who owe me two months’ rent are going to get away without paying any of it. My resultant foul mood would obviously not be helped by a musical that makes heroes of two people not paying rent.

Lights came up with some flouncing, rent-dodging fools launching into song and dance. Infuriatingly, however, Guy Woolf and Rory Stallibrass, like the rest of the cast, were really rather good. I still hated it, but grudging respect for the mechanics of the process began to creep in.

Other blows to my pre-prepared hatred were dealt by a script less laughably crass than I had supposed. I couldn’t get ‘Everyone has AIDS’ out of my head during supposedly emotive moments, but there was a realist sincerity to the lines, aided by a keen ability for self mockery.

Musicals are absurd and ludicrous things; fragile suspensions of multiple fripperies. I was eagerly awaiting the facade’s collapse so that I might critically bugger it. Unfortunately it was flawless; uniquely professional in Cambridge theatre. The large crew deserve immense credit for the quality of lighting, the brilliance of the band and the wonderfully-composed set. The set designer merged intelligent aesthetic with function; imagine a corner of New York chewed up and spat out by Keith Haring. Damn them. Their wiles turned me into Louis Walsh; a leprechaun mindlessly swallowing processed cheese.

James Partridge and Mateo Oxley gave excellent support to the male leads. All four had strong voices, excellent characterisation and boyband-smooth moves. The stand-out male performer, though, was Nkoko Sekete, playing the wonderful character Angel. A tragic transvestite in a Santa skirt, he put wit in his melodies and dynamite in his hips.

The female leads were all wonderful, to the point that I suspected Autotune. Emma Walton’s voice was that of a choir girl with amplified attitude, and a high C (it could have been a D) to die for – or during. The excellently named Marie Buda was similarly tenacious, and the perfect partner for her onstage girlfriend, played by the star of the show, Victoria Rigby.

Rigby played Maureen, and arrived on stage an electrified Lizzie Siddal. Her voice drew every emotion, and her acting every joke from every single line. She brought flexibility and poise even to a cow impersonation; a transfixed audience gleefully mooed to her command. I was caught in a surreal world, mooing with an audience to the command of fire haired sorcerer. I was a mooing sheep, and my hatred was sapping uncontrollably.

During the bows the audience erupted. As I whooped and clapped I hated it again and I hated this even more. I hated the cast and team for putting on a show which had me standing up and clapping with everyone, all of us leaving with the intention of living for the day. I wanted to slap the sprawls of people in the bar, dirty filthy people infecting me with their oily grins.  I wandered home in the dark night hating my girlfriend for loving the play like I did. I resent everyone at the ADC that night for these two facts and for the excellence of the performance and experience. You shits ruined my plans for this review.