LGBT Poet Laureate

Poetry as a Catalyst for Social and Political Change

Reviews Archive

I Will Still Be Whole: When You Rip Me In Half

Bunker Theatre SE1

Tiptoe down the concrete slipway off Southwork Street; loiter outside the forbidding wooden frontage. Knock knock, the doors open… and you step into party time! The Bunker Theatre is bright, its loud, its packed and its friendly.

I will still be whole

This Theatre (previously an underground car park) opened almost three and a half years ago, and its ethic To give ambitious artists a home in which to share their work with adventurous audiences is exemplary. It’s so sad, therefore, to hear that it will be closing in March 2020 when its lease runs out.

Ava Wong’s debut play “i will still be whole (when you rip me in half)” explores the relationship between daughter EJ (Aoife Hinds) and her mother Joy (Tuyen Do) who abandoned her 22 years previously.

It plays out as a series of intertwining monologues that reveal the choices both women have made. EJ; Anxious and uncertain about her sexual attraction to women. Joy; who loves running and erasing all traces of her Chinese identity.

The potential of the writing is crystal clear; the dialogue between the two characters is authentic and moving, poetic in places, and effective in revealing their very different characters.

Visually, the production was rather lacking in drama, the staging was dull and rather inert. I found myself closing my eyes and just listening as the play moved towards the meeting between mother and daughter.

Perhaps staging it as a radio play might fulfill its potential?

The programming of The Bunkers final few months, will focus on collaborations with Women and LGBTQ Artists. I recommend a visit whilst you still can!

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

November 2019

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English National Opera   

I just love the way Opera doesn’t flinch from tackling big philosophical issues. It has the potential to wrench powerful emotions from its audience. Challenge them intellectually. Uplift them spiritually.


It can be the Campest of Camp and yet still wring out a tear! It satisfies on many levels and offers what no other single art form can.

Orphee by Philip Glass is the final offering of the ENO’s (English National Opera’s) bold autumn season of four operas that explore different interpretations of the Myth of Orpheus.

This Opera directed by Netia Jones is a groundbreaker, not least, because of the many talented women featured on the technical team. Lets hope it sets a precedent.

Philip Glass wrote this chamber opera in 1993, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s surreal classic 1950’s film of the same title. In it Cocteau depicts Orpheus as a faded narcissistic poet and examines ‘The Artist’s’ life, its successes, failures and obsessions. The films fantastically interweaved and mirrored subplot explores immortality and betrayal.

Glass uses the text of Cocteau’s film as a libretto for his opera, and footage of the original film is projected throughout, behind the onstage action. This, accompanied by Lizzie Clachan’s mainly monochrome set (occasionally punctuated by dazzling crimson) Daniella Agami’s expressive concise choreography, and Lucy Carter’s subtle, atmospheric lighting, sets the scene for an evening of terror, mystery and pathos.

Orpheus (beautifully sung by Nicholas Lester) is driven by love and regret to cross the threshold of life and death to rescue his long suffering and neglected wife Eurydice (Sarah Tynan) and also pursue his passion for the Princess of Death (a stunning ENO debut for the radiant Jennifer France) Nicky Spence’s wonderful tenor voice soothes and stimulates throughout, as chauffeur and mediator Heurtebise.

The music is sublime. A steady stream of haunting undulating melodies, that ebb and flow in and out of your consciousness as the characters on stage move between the living and the dead. This is music that truly awakens the senses. Go see it!

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

November 2019

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Hilda And Virginia

Jermyn Street Theatre   

What a great little theatre Jermyn Street Theatre is. Tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus…it’s intimate and friendly with cutting edge programming.

Hilda & Virginia

Hilda and Virginia are two plays about two very different women, written with a sure hand by accomplished playwright and poet Maureen Duffy.

These monologues explore the life and experiences of Hilda, a sixth century abbess, and Virginia Woolf, writer and founder member of the Bloomsbury set. Hilda and Virginia’s contrasting and fascinating lives are revealed through interesting facts, garlanded with poetic flair.

Monologues are always a challenge for the actor, and although I was not always convinced by her characterization I thought Sarah Crowden had a good stab at it.

Maureen Duffy devotees will not want to miss this literary treat and the Jermyn Street Theatre is definitely one to watch.

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

April 2018

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Jack The Ripper: The Women Of Whitechapel

English National Opera   

This is a thrilling and very scary production. I loved it! I was literally gripping my seat. I haven’t seen anything so dramatically and musically accomplished for a very long time.

Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel is part of the ENO’s commitment to supporting new operas and presenting works that appeal to a large and diverse audience. This one is a winner!

The production tackles its horrific subject matter head on. It unflinchingly depicts the pitiful and harrowing lives of the working class, uneducated, women who lived in Whitechapel in 1888. During this period poverty was regarded as a criminal vice, and women as mere chattels.

It charts the bloody reign of Jack the Ripper, focusing on five of his victims. These women were all in their forties, down on their luck and working as prostitutes. It explores the camaraderie that existed between them and the community the Ripper stalked. It goes some way in restoring the humanity and visibility of those women.

Right from the start, Ian Bell’s atmospheric score draws you into the dark labyrinth of the women’s precarious lives, revealing its humour, bravado and brutality. The fluid complexity of Bell’s beautifully executed composition illuminates the individual characters, as well as their interactions. It gave me goose bumps.

Emma Jenkins’ libretto is poignant and heart wrenching. “None but the lonely heart can know my sorrow” – a quote taken from one of the actual victims’ headstone – still haunts me.

The five central characters are beautifully created and sung with vocal dexterity and sincerity. It’s a star-studded cast and not one of the performers disappoints. Including the forty strong chorus.

This is an opera that will appeal to people who usually don’t go to, or like opera. If you’re a fan of drama, suspense, horror and an entertaining night out, don’t miss it. I suggest you take a friend, there will be lots to talk about.

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

April 2019

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Poet In da Corner

The Royal Court  

A Tour de Force, by The Royal Court and the Represent programme. Which commission female orientated artworks exploring issues of democracy, inclusion and equality in contemporary Britain.

Poet in da Corner

This is a show like no other. Crisp and Cathartic. It’s a show where music, dance and spoken word collide.

Right from the start we are physically drawn into the drama by the rhythm of the music, supplied throughout by an on stage DJ.

Poet in da Corner is essentially a coming of age story about Debris, a young, mixed race, Mormon-raised, bisexual. She’s a loner whose trying to find her place at home, at school and in the world.

When Debris hears Dizzie Rascals seminal 2003 Grime Album ”Boy in the Corner” she has an epiphany, which enables her to feel confident about her own authenticity, to establish friendships and explore the potential of her life.

The poetry is fast paced, funny, hard, sometimes heart-rending. Its poetry that sings and dances…powered by the driving rhythm of the music.

I particularly loved the scene where Debris experiences her first girl love. Which was tender, expressive and beautifully choreographed.

The ensemble cast, play a number of parts throughout, with relaxed ease. The choreography, being an integral part of each characterisation.

It wasn’t just on stage that the dancing was happening. I went with Grime Pop Princess Toya Delazy and we, along with the rest of the audience, were dancing in our seats.

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

September 2018

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Vaults Art Festival - 2022

Sprawled underground amongst the subterranean vaults alongside Waterloo Station. The first impression of the Festival does not disappoint.


Nor does the Fever Dream Company whose innovative concept of what and where makes an engaging theatrical experience never ceases to amaze.

I felt genuinely alarmed when we, the six members of the audience were led to the venue for Wrecked…its shocking. There were also quite a few communal sharp intakes of breath during the 45 minutes of the production.

Wrecked is an immersive, in your face, site-specific experience. It explores same sex attraction, compelling love and its consequences on innocent lives.

Sam gives an accomplished performance, revealing how, and with who, she got to this place. I found myself sometimes closing my eyes and just going with the recorded narrative.

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

April 2018

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La Hook Up

It’s rare to attend an event, which has a feel of the start of something special. Such was the launch of LA Hook Up.

La Hook Up

It is a fantastic venue, in the heart of Queeropolis. Hidden plainly in sight, it boasts a large, stylishly understated room with bar. From its beautiful windows the whole length of Old Compton Street can be seen.

There was a real party vibe in the room, with a glass of bubbly on arrival and a shot of tequila included in the £10 admission price. Guests were encouraged to bring their own tipple with mixers supplied for free.

The atmosphere was a winning combination of friendly and flirtatious, with a varied selection of every type, age and race of lesbian. There was music and a bit of dancing. Lots of looking and a bit of romancing! The hosts were helpful and unobtrusive, letting everyone just get on with what they’d come to do…meet new women!

It’s a subtle balance managing a new event in a new venue. This one’s a winner. The organisers plan to host the event bi-monthly. Can’t wait for the next one.

Trudy Howson, LGBT Poet Laureate

April 2018

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