‘Jubilee’ review

Theatre, Experimental
4 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

A fiercely powerful staging of Derek Jarman’s punk classic

People have been pontificating on what punk is – if it’s sold out, if it’s dead – pretty much since it showed up. So I’m not going to join them. Except to say that if anyone’s keeping the ripped Union Jack flag flying, it’s got to be queer people of colour who are risking everything to live outside the rules of a heteronormative, post-Brexit society. Chris Goode’s play, transferring to Lyric Hammersmith after opening at Royal Exchange Manchester, gets this. He reimagines Derek Jarman’s 1978 punk cult movie ‘Jubilee’ just enough to make it speak to today, but leaves its wild nihilist momentum intact.

It’s set in a squat (although this being 2018, it’s probably a warehouse share) where the cast bicker, wheel a pram on fire around, violently demolish the patriarchy, rewrite history, and watch YouTube videos. Travis Alabanza (playing Amyl Nitrate, the group’s historian) brings us up to speed on this show’s world, and pretty much anticipates every possible criticism of it: ‘Welcome to “Jubilee”. An iconic film most of you have never even heard of, adapted by an Oxbridge twat for a dying medium, spoiled by millennials, ruined by diversity, and constantly threatening to go all interactive. You poor fuckers.’

But although there are a fair few walk-outs, there’s no need to feel sorry for the audience: ‘Jubilee’ is fundamentally a really enjoyable evening, whether you’re being enjoyably shocked or just wholeheartedly enjoying its surge of violence, naked men, visual splendour and gleeful subversion.

What separates it from the original film is the amped-up self-awareness it brings to the plot, which follows the gang as they get sucked into the clutches of an evil record mogul, and attacked by the police. Viv (played by a brilliantly on-message Lucy Ellinson) brings this self-awareness home, playing a middle-class, university-educated artist who’s at one remove from the ‘authentic’ punk energy of the rest of the gang. But what is authentic, anyway? Goode’s text emphasises how easily subversion is commodified and sold on: genderfluidity is trumpeted in fashion magazines while trans people are attacked in the streets, and in broadsheets.

It also infuses its nihilistic source material with new warmth, creating a sense of a mutually supportive community that’s at odds with the world outside. Sometimes, the gaps between the spirit of this ‘Jubilee’ and the violent events it takes from its source material feel a bit jarring – like the lack of space these caring punks have to acknowledge the violent deaths of their fallen friends.

Still, this weirdness also points to the impossibility of depicting a world whose violence is often invisible. There aren’t really cops shooting people at queer parties, but under austerity politics, there’s a quieter destruction at work. ‘Jubilee’ ends by pointing to the precariousness and fragility of rebellion, while leaving just enough space for hope.

By: Alice Saville



Users say (3)

3 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

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Interesting! I have not seen the film so had no idea what to expect, and can't compare with the original, but it was all a bit mad. There was a lot of nudity and fake sex, some of it seemingly unnecessary, but also some fun parts. I still have no idea why Queen Elizabeth I was there, and from my seat on the stage I missed some of the dialogue with her. 

It was my first trip to the Lyric and the theatre was really nice, so I'd try out the bar next time!


I’m sorry but this play was total drivel. I’ll give it two stars as the set was nice. The punk message doesn’t get through. I saw an audience member near me fall asleep, how envious I was.

An Incredible Cast Lead this new adaption of Derek Jarmans 'Jubilee' , brought up to date by Chris Goode, he has done a Fantastic job of making it sound modern and edgy and relevant.

Toyah Willcox heads this production as the only person who was actually in the original film, but rather then playing the Pyromaniac Mad she now plays Queen Elizabeth 1 ,and plays it with such Regality you feel you should be curtseying next time you pass her in the street .She is Fantastic in the role , and it deserves to be seen .

Excellent Dialogue throughout , Travis Alabanza who plays Amyl Nitrate deliveries some Incredible powerful dialogue 

and is a Powerhouse in this play , Amyl's Rule Britaina really is quite a spectacle to behold.

There are plenty of stand out cast members , to name one or two would be wrong here as they all deliver such powerful and convincing performances ..

i'll never see The Spice Girls in the same light again...' I Tell you what I want , what I really really want....I Want To Be Free' 

Go see Jubilee , its Live ,in your face , Unapologetic, Shakespearian , Dramatic, Funny, Moving, Shocking, Bravo to Chris Goode and Company for this production

Damon King 

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