LOOKING FOR JOHN, 4Star****, Birmingham, To 19 11

LOOKING FOR JOHN: Written and Performed by Tony Timberlake

Birmingham Rep: The Door, to 19 November 2016
In association with the Homotopia and SHOUT festival
Runs: 1 hour, no interval
BO: 0121 236 4455

Review Alexander Ray Edser, 16 11 16

A Tardis of a play
Tony Timberlake’s one-man play centres around the actor’s fascination with the life of John Curry – and for those who wonder who that was, he was a multi-gold medal winner ice-skater. Bit anorak you might say. But Curry was a mega-star; millions and millions tuned in to view him win his Olympic medal in 1976, when he was also voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. As a 13 year-old Timberlake (young, gay, not totally at ease with himself) took Curry to his heart. Curry we note, shifted male ice-skating from macho show of strength, to an art-form (yes, well it’s a sport too) closer to ballet. Curry, who had been much loved, died, perhaps not much loved, of AIDS. Timberlake sets out to find out what happened to him, who he really was. He discovers this, but also more; he discovers who he himself is.

The value of this intimate play is not so much in the Curry story, but what is revealed as the parallel lives are spun for us. The play may be small, but it is easefully about big things. The ephemeral nature of fame, the fleeting nature of life, the conflicts involved in being true to yourself. And conflicts involved in being gay; ‘Oh that old thing’, you might say,’who cares about that now?’ But life is not easy for all gay people in all communities today – far from it.

All this then, as a sole man tells us a story about someone else. Tony Timberlake does it with great skill and confidence. He easily takes us into his confidence and injects much humour. He has expertly constructed his piece, freely moving backwards and forwards, never losing us, and only on a very few occasions do we feel we are being given a lesson.

Much atmosphere is gained from strategic use of clips of Curry skating; Curry, though is seen as a ghost or shadow, as much a mystery to us as he is to the story-teller himself.

Written and Performed by: Tony Timberlake

Tessa Walker: Director
Simon Bond: Lighting Designer
Iain Armstrong: Sound Designer
Louis Price: AV Designer

2016-11-17 16:21:21

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