Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Closets review at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester – ’emotional time-travelling musical’

Sam Retford and Lloyd Daniels in Closets at Manchester's Hope Mill Theatre
by -

Lloyd Eyre-Morgan and Neil Ely’s new musical Closets opens up an important discussion with great charm and sensitivity.

It’s 1988 and 16 year old Henry’s relationship with his mother Susan has reached breaking point. She can’t accept his sexuality, and when she finds him trying on her clothes and make-up, the situation explodes. As Henry sneaks into his closet, he’s transported to the 2018 version of his own room, occupied by Ben.

Ben’s mother Penny is embarrassingly accepting, but he can’t tell her about the bullying he endures at school. Henry and Ben form an immediate bond and begin an adventure into the past, where they meet Florrie, a Stonewall Inn cabaret artist in 1969.

For those of us who grew up gay in less enlightened times, it’s easy to think that teenagers this century have a smooth ride. Closets shows that, while we’ve come a long way, very different modern pressures mean it’s still never an easy journey.

Ashley MA Walsh’s genre-bending score bridges the decades as fluidly as the time-travelling plot, capturing the mood of each period perfectly. Sam Retford and Lloyd Daniels give affecting performances as Henry and Ben, as do Hayley Tamaddon and Sophie Ellicott as Susan and Penny, and Kim Tatum as Florrie. All the vocals are consistently strong.

Lloyd Eyre-Morgan’s direction delicately balances comedy and drama, hitting the precise emotional temperature throughout. Closets is a tender story of friendship and motherhood, a history lesson that never lectures, and a wake-up call to us all.

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
Emotional time-travelling story that delicately explores some uncomfortable territory