Harvey Fierstein's TORCH SONG TRILOGY, helmed by Tony and Olivier Award winner Douglas Hodge, opened last night at the Menier Chocolate Factory. See what the critics had to say below.
The Tony Award-winning TORCH SONG TRILOGY, described as "the poignant story of an outsider’s search for love and acceptance," will rununtil August 12, 2012.
Mark Shenton, The Stage: "And as the Menier’s new Torch Song Trilogy opened on the same day that the Church of England publicly objected to the current government plans to introduce gay marriage, the play has proved eerily (and sadly) more resonant than ever; it’s return here, thirty years almost to the day since its original Broadway premiere, proves that we’ve come a long way but not really very far at all. [...] The play is deservedly a landmark of gay theatre, and this unmissable production serves it superbly."
Matt Wolf, theartsdesk.com: "David Bedella reinvents the demanding principal role in his own slimmer, always empathetic image. But neither he nor Douglas Hodge's affectionate production can quite erase one's sense that the material has been superseded by more sophisticated, less sitcom-heavy approaches to the terrain. [...] If the actual text in 2012 seems either to diminish or elide issues that numerous other writers would go on to explore far more fully [...] it's best to appreciate Torch Song as the torch-bearer of a bygone era."
Paul Taylor, The Independent: "Watching Hodge's beautifully staged production, I was struck by how this three-part work now manages to seem, in some respects, a period piece and, in others, ahead of the game. [...] With his huge pearly smile, David Bedella is perhaps too straightforwardly seductive as Arnold, a man whose witty Neil Simon-esque retorts are surely a defence against sexual insecurity and fear of loneliness."
Henry Hitchings, London Evening Standard: "Although significantly shorter than the original, the action still runs nearly three hours. The writing is crammed with one-liners, yet sometimes flags. There are moments that drip with sentimentality, and the subject matter doesn’t pack the punch that it did in the Eighties. But Douglas Hodge’s revival is warm and tender, with Bedella especially moving."
Michael Coveney, WhatsOnStage.com: "Torch Song’s rambling imperfections and glorious special pleadings, once its strength, have become its slow-down weakness. [..] The evening is slightly uphill work, without the pyrotechnical bravura of the show’s writer/performer to lighten the load and provide the whiplash venom needed for Arnold’s exchanges with his mother. Joe McFadden is touchingly sympathetic as the teacher, but the play’s most likeable character isLaura Pyper’s gamine, good-natured Laurel, caught in a whirlpool of sexual cross currents that leave her confused without bitterness."
Libby Purves, The Times: "Bedella shines as Arnold, whose life we follow over six years with pity, admiration and exasperation as he loses a bisexual lover to a passionless camouflage marriage, finds a new man, sees him murdered, and tries to build a home. In the first London revival since 1985 of Harvey Fierstein’s piece, it is fascinating how it still hits the spot. Legal persecution is over, but stigma endures: politics and Church fracture over 'normality' and same-sex marriage."
Tickets and more information: https://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/Online/default.asp