TABOO
The Venue, London WC2
Opened 29 January, 2002

**** Boy George's musical autobiography is an utter delight!

One of those shows where your reviewer enters the theatre wanting to hate it, and it stubbornly refuses to let him do so even a little bit.

The four-piece band are a little leaden on "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me", and Euan Cameron as Boy George ought to know that "Bowie" rhymes with "Zoë". These are really the only criticisms I can find of the production itself. The show loses its fifth star largely for charging West End prices starting at £25 to sit in plastic bucket seats in a converted church basement.

These reservations aside, the fun and achievement are undiluted. It's a fine story the rise, fall and rise again of Boy George from a talented songwriter the Boy himself, mixing sharp new numbers with older ones. George does not fall into daft nostalgia for the vapid, self-regarding New Romantic scene, but regards it and his younger self with a mordant yet affectionate eye. The foreground tale boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl and along the way leaks the story of his friend George's drugs hell is plainly an excuse for wonderful portrayals of George, Marilyn, Steve Strange, club organiser Philip Sallon and "living artwork" Leigh Bowery (a terrific performance by comedian Matt Lucas). This is the rock musical that the Pet Shop Boys' Closer To Heaven wanted to be, and it's a treat.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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