Even before joining Bloolips, Nick Phillips had a flair for the fabulous. A talented young chorister, he played a season with the National Youth Theatre before the call came from the legendary Bette Bourne inviting him to join the ground-breaking queer theatre troupe. Ecce Homo takes the form of an autobiographical cabaret, performed by Phillips – aka Naughty Nickers – celebrating a fight for equality that became a battle for survival.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Phillips talks of his early years with warmth and sincerity, juxtaposing showbusiness anecdotes with his story as a young man at the forefront of the fledgling gay movement in London, New York and San Francisco. Punctuating his narrative with songs from Sondheim, Herman and Coward, the landscape was about to change radically with the AIDS tsunami of the 1980s. It is here that the tone changes and an overwhelming sense of resilience kicks in.
Ecce Homo might be considered sentimental, but Phillips’ memories are a valuable part of both queer and theatre history that deserve recognition. With a sensitive musical accompaniment by Henry Burnett on the keyboard, I’m Still Here has never been sung with such resonance or so richly illustrated a life lived out and proud.
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