One to watch in 2012: Alp Haydar
One of the most creative acts in cabaret offers Ben Walters a magic carpet ride into his imagination
No one has ever created shows quite like Alp Haydar’s ‘one-man pantomimes’. Even within a scene as protean as cabaret, it’s hard to think of anyone else who fuses green-screen CGI animation with puppyish audience rapport; weds outrageously exuberant sexuality to affecting emotional narrative; or explores gay Muslim identity against a backdrop of disaster-movie set-ups and the ruins of Atlantis. Imagine a homemade mash-up of Carry On films, ‘Avatar’ and ‘The Satanic Verses’ and you get the gist.
Born in Palmers Green in 1981 to Turkish Cypriot parents, Haydar circled the musical-theatre cabaret scene for a couple of years, creating increasingly elaborate YouTube trailers for his shows on his laptop. But it was only when he exported video into his live work – performing in front of a projected backdrop with which he could appear to interact – that his act caught fire. Haydar began developing a cycle of fantasy adventure stories in which he plays all the roles, including himself, his monstrous mother and his smouldering Islamist boyfriend.
The uninitiated can catch up with Haydar on February 16 at the RVT with a double bill of his past two shows, ‘Alp Haydar’s Flight 666 to Bermuda’ and ‘Alp Haydar’s Erotic Adventures in Atlantis’, ahead of the premiere of ‘Alp Haydar’s New Vagina’, in which our hero goes to extreme lengths to win back his beloved. ‘There’s something special about us all watching that screen.’ he says. ‘Magical things happen. I’m excited to see where we go.’