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Mark Farrelly in Jarman

Review: Jarman, Greenwich Theatre

I know of Derek Jarman more by repute than anything else. To date I haven’t seen any of his films, read his diaries, or made the pilgrimage to his pebbly garden down in Dungeness. But still I know that he was an iconic figure in the world of avant-garde cinema, and a bold campaigner for gay rights even as he fell victim to AIDS in the 1980s. On what would have been Jarman’s 80th birthday, writer/performer Mark Farrelly’s one-man show sketches his life from harsh childhood, through romantic fulfilment of a sort with the mysterious HB and on to…

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Dramatic tribute to artist, filmmaker and campaigner Derek Jarman.

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I know of Derek Jarman more by repute than anything else. To date I haven’t seen any of his films, read his diaries, or made the pilgrimage to his pebbly garden down in Dungeness. But still I know that he was an iconic figure in the world of avant-garde cinema, and a bold campaigner for gay rights even as he fell victim to AIDS in the 1980s.

On what would have been Jarman’s 80th birthday, writer/performer Mark Farrelly’s one-man show sketches his life from harsh childhood, through romantic fulfilment of a sort with the mysterious HB and on to illness and death.

The production features some sophisticated and effective lighting, and a scene of audience participation enthusiastically embraced by a willing crowd. Farrelly has a certain charm and is clearly emotionally invested in his subject.

Some aspects of the show are rather mystifying – I’ve no idea what all the brown paper was supposed to represent – and it feels more like a sequence of events rather than a portrait of a person. I saw the show with someone who is something of a Jarman afficionado, and he agreed that not a great deal of the man’s vision or character was on display.

But just celebrating Jarman in this special anniversary year serves a purpose of sorts: I think I’ll give the films a go, and maybe even take a trip to the famous pebbly garden.

Written by: Mark Farrelly
Directed by: Sarah-Louise Young

Jarman played at Greenwich Theatre for one evening as part of a Gala performance. The show will now tour nationally, with dates confirmed up to 8 September.

About Nathan Blue

Nathan is a writer, painter and semi-professional fencer. He fell in love with theatre at an early age, when his parents took him to an open air production of Macbeth and he refused to leave even when it poured with rain and the rest of the audience abandoned ship. Since then he has developed an eclectic taste in live performance and attends as many new shows as he can, while also striving to find time to complete his PhD on The Misogyny of Jane Austen.
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