San Domino, Tristan Bates Theatre

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by guest critic Gregory Forrest

I really wanted to love this.

A new musical about gay men under Mussolini (politically, if not physically) sounds so exciting. Silvio Berlusconi’s claim that ‘Mussolini never killed people, just sent them to holiday camps’ brushes off the dark reality of imprisonment, violence, and unrecorded deaths. Yet by clearing out the closet, government officials gave gay men in particular the freedom to live openly and form tentative relationships in their Mediterranean exile. It was a queerly liberating sea breeze.

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Cafe Society Swing, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by an anonymous guest critic

An evening of spectacular performances depict the true story of New York’s first jazz club, Cafe Society, run by immigrants and allowed black and white audiences to integrate. The club’s audiences watched the most talented performers of their time, including Billie Holiday, who gave her first performance of harrowingly beautiful lynching song ‘Strange Fruit’ there.

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