Premiere is 'a tribute to 80s generation decimated by AIDS'

Jack Holden has written and performs CRUISE at Shoreditch Town Hall for an online audience

Jack Holden has written and performs CRUISE at Shoreditch Town Hall for an online audience - Credit: Supplied

Shoreditch Town Hall is hosting a streamed world premiere set in Soho clubland during the AIDS crisis.

CRUISE is written and performed by Jack Holden in tribute to the generation "decimated by HIV and AIDS" who were recently portrayed in Russell T Davies' acclaimed drama It's A Sin.

Featuring a pulsating electronic 80s soundtrack played live, the one man show both celebrates Queer culture and offers a moving spoken word tribute to the veterans of the AIDS pandemic.

Holden, who previously starred in War Horse, said: “CRUISE is based on a true story I was told while a volunteer for Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ Listening Service. I was in a weird, unstable, self-destructive part of my early 20s. This story, among others, taught me my gay history, put my life into perspective, and helped me to grow up. The names and events have been changed, and a lot of material has been imagined but it's a memorial for the old days of Soho, a celebration of electronic music, and an excuse to dance.”

Directed by Bronagh Lagan and filmed at the Shoreditch venue, it's set on February 29, 1988, what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on earth. When Michael is diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he’s told he’ll have four years at best to live. So, with the clock ticking, he and partner, Dave, decide to sell their house and car, spend everything, and party like it’s the last days of Rome. When Dave dies two years later, Michael doubles down on his hedonistic ways, drowning himself in drink and drugs. And on the last night of his four-year countdown, Michael decides to go out with a bang. He puts on his favourite jacket, heads for Soho, and embarks on a long night of farewells to friends, enemies and strangers; old haunts, dive bars, cafes, clubs and pubs; his brothers, sisters and exes. He dances, sings, and says yes to everything and everyone. Then, with all his affairs taken care of, Michael promptly… survives. He goes on to live to a ripe old age, but the play asks having been given the gift of life, what kind of life should he live now?

Co-producer Katy Lipson said the script for CRUISE reminded her why theatres must re-open. "Making the decision to film CRUISE is just another way of ensuring this important story has a chance to reach audiences in a new form before we can bring it to the stage later this year for a live audience," she added.

CRUISE is available to stream at from April 15-25. Tickets £12.

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