dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

McQueen

Tracy Ann Oberman and Stephen Wight in McQueen. Photo: Specular Tracy Ann Oberman and Stephen Wight in McQueen. Photo: Specular
by -

The world of fashion is a lot about style over substance, so it’s perhaps appropriate that McQueen, James Phillips’s new play about the iconic late British fashion designer Alexander McQueen that has transferred from a spring run at the St James to the West End’s Haymarket, shares that attribute.

It is also strangely lethargic, in-between strutting displays of movement in which a cast of variously lean, tall dancers are dressed like shop floor mannequins or fashion show runway models.

The play follows hard on the recent, record-breaking Victoria and Albert Museum retrospective of the designer’s work, that was seen by nearly half a million people during its 21-week run. This play seeks to be about the man as much as his work, as it follows Stephen Wight’s McQueen — brooding, intense and mirthless — on a dark night of the soul with a young female intruder to his home (played by Carly Bawden). It turns out she works in his Bond Street shop, and he tries to save her from suicide — the fate he would himself succumb to, as would his friend and patron Isabella Blow, sympathetically embodied by Tracy-Ann Oberman.

It’s a play partly about the all-consuming spectre of depression, and at one point as Lee asks Isabella, “Am I going to make it Issy?”, he replies, “You already know the answer to that question.”

So do we, which rather diminishes the dramatic tension. But John Caird’s production – animated by pixelated, hallucinatory images of London from video designer Timothy Bird — conjures a good visual sense of McQueen’s world, and it feels right at home in the glittering gold leaf proscenium arch of the Haymarket itself that’s a neat echo of the gold-feathered McQueen coat that is a centrepiece of the collection shown here.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Verdict
Dramatically defective but scenically effective, McQueen feels like an opportunistic encounter with the legendary designer
^