Morrissey has been one of the profane patron saints of queer performance company Duckie since its inception in 1996 and he takes centre stage – albeit in Godot-like absentia – in 'Unhappy Birthday', an immersive piece created and performed by the group's co-founder Amy Lamé. Although this isn't a Duckie production, it blurs the lines between party and play as Duckie's shows do.
In her familiar mode of no-nonsense conviviality, Lamé welcomes us to her birthday, where a seat is set aside for Moz as guest of honour. We sit in the round, party hats on, poppers at the ready, playing a game of pass-the-parcel
in which each layer prompts a turn about an aspect of Lamé's devotion to Morrissey, from squealing teen adoration and ecstatic quiff-creation to anticlimactic encounters and ideological disillusionment.
Although skimpy in terms of character and narrative, 'Unhappy Birthday' is impressive as the stylish and engaging realisation of a distinctive DIY ethos, a teenage-bedroom fug of mixed-up narcissism and progressive yearning neatly characterised by the show's programme, which is also a fanzine and an order of service.
It's directed by alt-cabaret dynamo Scottee, whose hand seems evident in the simple, effective colour scheme and thoroughgoing embrace of mess: be prepared to leave spattered with cake, gladioli petals, Dax hair wax and Eau de Moz, a bespoke scent that only a true believer could love.
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