Sunday, 4 October 2015

Life’s a bitch… why not become one?

Our friend Alexis Gregory is a man of many talents. We first met him as one of the hot barmen at our long-gone favourite gay haunt BarCode Soho and have followed his progress ever since; his performance as go-go dancer for Stewart Who's faboo "anthem" Bitch; and the fruition of his career as an actor - we saw him in the play Stonewall back in 2007; he has since appeared in the gay-themed films Kick Off and Fit (and he has had bit-parts in Casualty and The Bill, to boot).

We always thought he was male model material

Now he has turned his hand to play-writing, and it was to the début of his first play Slap that John-John and I ventured to sunny Stratford (home of the 2012 Olympics) last night - it was a tour-de-force!

Unusually for a drama, we were actually seated within the set itself - the "Hollywood-meets-Stepney" flat of pre-op trans call-girl Dominique (Lexi himself, in basque, fishnets and dangerously high heels throughout). And, at various times through the story, Dominique plonks herself down next to or drapes herself over the startled audience...

On reading the synopsis - "Life’s a bitch… why not become one? Welcome to the world of Dominique, a glamorous transsexual hooker in the throes of an emotional meltdown, caught between a rock and hard face, juggling a stalker client with a crush and her cute, chavved out, drugged up boyf who hasn’t got out the bath in a week." - one might have been forgiven for thinking this might be an exercise in high camp satire or a bit of soap-opera, but, despite its moments of humour (and indeed the bitchy flouncing of Dominique), Slap is a deep and though-provoking piece, full of delicious convolutions between the present and past and the real back-stories of the three main characters. Indeed, the big "twist" near the end, and the play's eventual shocking denouement had the whole audience - us included - gasping!

All three actors are utterly superb. Lexi's Dominique, all strut and swagger, gives over an air of being completely in control - but the cracks begin to show as the truth begins to unravel. Former Eastenders child actor Frankie Fitzgerald is convincingly dodgy and vulnerable in turn as the druggy, fucked-up "boyfriend" Danny - but just why is he permanently in that bath?; all becomes clear eventually... And the marvellous Nigel Fairs - whose own one-man bravura performance in Didn't You Used To Be Derek Jacobi? we loved so much last year - as the poor, put-upon "posh punter" John is a perfect foil for the domestic drama going on in front of him (and turns out to be the only one to see through all the role-playing in the end).

For a début play as a writer, Lexi deserves every award going for this - and I sincerely hope it is eventually made into a film (Channel 4 has already hosted a "workshop" performance at its studios, but the cameras weren't rolling at the time). Slap's director Rikki Beadle-Blair has had past success in this area (his original - and according to critics, superior to the recent Roland Emmerich film - Stonewall movie was a hit back in 1995), after all.

It was an experience I will remember for a very long time...

Slap is only on until Saturday 10th October at the Theatre Royal Stratford East - so you'd better be quick! It's definitely worth it.


  1. It was truly amazing. I can't wait to see what the talented Mr Gregory does next.

    A great review as always Mr Clark.

    John xx

    1. It was a great, great evening! Thank you. Jx


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